Google+ September 2014 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Tools to help students make the grade by Marc Saltzman

Tools to help students make the grade

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Moving on from Windows XP by Marc Saltzman

Moving on from Windows XP

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Tech Tips for School by Marc Saltzman

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The Latest in TV: Huge, curved and stunningly clear by Marc Saltzman

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cutting cable? Which streaming service is best? by Kim Komando

I hear from so many folks about how much they want to cut the cord and their big cable
bills. One of the strengths - and weaknesses - of cutting the cord is the range of options you have for making it happen.

For instance, I gave you a tip recently on 3 ways to get free HDTV, movies, sports and more - click here to read it if you missed it.

Free is good, but at some point to get the shows you want, you'll probably end up paying for a streaming video service like Netflix or Hulu. The upside is that, individually, these services cost almost nothing compared to cable.

For convenience, you might want to drop some money on a streaming video gadget, though. Click here to find out which one is right for you.

The downside is that if you end up paying for a handful of services at once, you won't really save that much compared to what you may already be paying for cable. So, you usually want to stick with just one or two streaming services. Click here to find out which service carries the shows you want to watch.

Naturally, each service has its own pros and cons. Let's find out which one is going to be right for you.
Note: I'm not going to include iTunes, Vudu or Google Play because those are pay-per-download services, not subscription streaming services. I'll cover those in another Tip.


Netflix is the site that made streaming video popular and it still has the best range of movies and shows for most people. It also has a decent recommendation system for finding new shows to watch.

In addition to movies and TV shows, it has critically acclaimed original content. You can catch shows like "Orange is the New Black," "House of Cards," and the fourth season of "Arrested Development."

The Netflix app is the nicest to use on every gadget I've tried it on. Families will like Netflix support for multiple users, which keeps queues cleaner and recommendations more helpful for individual family members.

There's also a dedicated "Kids" section. This gives kids their own space on your Netflix account so they can safely browse all kids' content on Netflix without finding anything offensive.

There's plenty more good stuff on Netflix, including some secrets every Netflix user should know.

Streaming plans start at $7.99 a month and there's a one-month free trial.
Pros: Best selection of content for most people, Original programming, Dedicated profiles and kids section, Solid app, Monthly plans, App works on any gadget
Cons: Prices increase more often than other services, Running TV shows not available until months after they air

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Amazon actually has two streaming services, but they're confusingly named. Amazon Instant Video lets you buy TV shows and movies from the full Amazon library - think of it like a digital video store.

Amazon Prime Instant Video is Amazon's subscription service and competitor to Netflix. For an annual fee, you can stream unlimited TV shows and movies from a subset of the full Amazon digital library.

Amazon Prime's selection isn't quite as good as Netflix, and its original shows aren't as popular, but it does have some compensations. Because it's part of Amazon Prime, you also get Prime's free two-day shipping, Kindle lending library and Amazon Prime Music streaming. It's also the only service that has a deal with HBO to stream popular HBO shows - that doesn't include Game of Thrones though.

Amazon Instant Video also has a Season Pass feature that lets you buy and watch new TV show episodes shortly after they air. This gives a discount over buying it after the fact. It also occasionally offers movies that are still in the theater.

The Amazon app is decent on many gadgets, although it only recently added video streaming to Android smartphones. It isn't supported on some third-party streaming gadgets like Apple TV. Amazon is really hoping you'll use its Fire tablets and Fire TV streaming box.

One issue that I've had with Amazon is that I was once trying to watch a show covered under Amazon Prime's free streaming service. I accidentally clicked on the "1-click" purchase option, and was immediately charged the pay-per-download price for the show.
I immediately spoke to Amazon's customer service for a refund, but was told that they could only give me an Amazon gift card for the amount which I paid. So, if you're using it, be careful where you click.

Amazon Prime costs $99 a year, or $49 for students. There is no monthly payment option, but there is a free trial.
Pros: Strong library of content, Original shows, HBO deal, Amazon Prime perks, Season Pass with Instant Video for watching on-air TV shows
Cons: No monthly payment option, Confusing overlap between Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, Doesn't work with Apple TV or Chromecast, Running TV shows not available on Prime until months after they air

Hulu/Hulu Plus

One drawback to most streaming services is that they don't have TV shows until months or years after the current season ends. If you're looking for the best way to get access to popular TV shows as they air, Hulu is the place to go.

It usually pairs well with Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The free Hulu has plenty of current shows available to watch, but there are a lot of ads and Hulu only carries the five most recent episodes. The paid Hulu Plus has a wider range of shows, more episodes and seasons available per show and fewer ads. There are still some ads, though.

Hulu also has ad-supported movies, as well as original content available. Hulu is probably the closest to an actual streaming TV station, as it was originally built and funded by NBC.

An app is available for most gadgets, however, it only works with the paid Hulu Plus, not the free Hulu.

Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month and there is a free trial.
Pros: Watch TV episodes shortly after they air
Cons: Lots of ads, even with the paid version, Need Hulu Plus to use the app


The most popular video streaming service isn't actually that great for cutting the cord. Don't get me wrong, all major streaming boxes and smart TVs support watching videos on YouTube.

If you're a fan of YouTube personalities and channels - like mine - then it's a great way to keep up with them. For movies and TV shows, however, the cost to rent or own is a little higher than other services. It has the same selection as Google Play, by the way.
Pros: Free, Works on any gadget, Endless content
Cons: Ads, Major TV shows and movies are rent/own only


If you like comedy, melodrama, or '80s action movies, Crackle is the free streaming service for you. Crackle boasts every episode of Seinfeld ever made, along with a series where Jerry Seinfeld interviews popular comedians of today.

Crackle is ad-supported, and feels the most to me like a channel that plays TV movies all day. Not made-for-TV movies, though, these are the attention-grabbing movies that work well with Crackle's ad-supported business model.

It's supported on almost every device, and can run all of its videos in full HD.
Pros: Free
Cons: Ads, Very narrow focus

New keyboard apps you'll love to use with your phone or tablet by Kim Komando

Smartphones have made our lives so much easier in many ways, but the on-screen
keyboard can drive you up the wall, especially if you need to write anything longer than a Tweet. Most smartphone keyboards have tiny letters and little room for error for adult-sized fingers.
Even the most careful writers can end up with embarrassing spelling mistakes. And you don't want to rely on auto-correct to fix them - usually it just makes things worse.

While there have long been apps to replace the standard keyboard on Android gadgets, the new iPhone software, iOS 8, allows the use of alternate keyboards for the first time.
They use cool ideas, new designs and predictive text algorithms to make writing texts and emails faster and more accurate.


If you're tired of the default keyboard, this app is for you. The Swype keyboard changes the entire concept of mobile typing. Instead of tapping virtual keys, you slide your finger to each letter of the word you're spelling.

Swype figures out what word you want based on the pattern of your movement. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it can be very fast, especially for one-handed typing.

Many Android gadgets ship with Swype already installed. If your gadget doesn't have it and you want to give it a try, visit the Google Play store and download it.


If typing on your small keyboard gives you cold sweats, SwiftKey can help you type faster and more accurately. You no longer have to rely on auto-correct, which often makes embarrassing mistakes.

SwiftKey has a very smart predictive text algorithm that can make sense out of sloppy or rushed typing. The longer you use it, the more accurate it gets.
It learns and remembers your typing habits for email, text messages, or social media posts. Soon, it can tell the next word you want before you press a key!

There's a version for Android and Apple gadgets, and they're both free. So, you have nothing to lose by trying it.


This keyboard can read your mind. Well, not really, but it gets pretty darn close.
Instead of having to hit the keys exactly, Fleksy gives you much more room for error than the standard keyboards. Just type in the words and swipe to the right to add a space. It really is that simple.

To change a word or punctuation, just swipe down. If you want to add punctuation, swipe right again after a space.

Fleksy even has the option to become invisible so you can see more of what you're writing. You can still type on the invisible keyboard and watch Fleksy predict your message.

It's not magic, but it will certainly look like it. You have to try it to believe it!

Real keyboards

Those keyboard apps have you covered when typing on the go. But, for typing up long emails or documents, a physical keyboard is still going to work best. Fortunately, I have a few options in my store.

The iPad Air Flip Turn Case with Keyboard has many benefits. The turn case offers full protection and is adjustable so you can use your iPad as a tablet, laptop or movie player. It is easy to flip the case into a Bluetooth keyboard. There is also a version available for the iPad Mini.

If you have an iPad 2, 3, and 4, the Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard and Folio Case for new iPad is for you.

For Android gadgets, I offer the Power & Keyboard Folio Case. This case fits 10-inch tablets and provides protection and a Bluetooth keyboard. It also features a built-in 8000 mAh battery that delivers significant charging power.

Learn how crooks attack using public Wi-Fi by Kim Komando

Hackers will do just about anything to get their hands on your personal information. More and more hackers are taking to the streets and using the real world to attack their victims digitally.

One of the best ways for hackers to invade your computer is by using local wireless networks. If you're a gadget fanatic like me, then you're almost always looking for a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot to save on your smartphone's or tablet's data plan.

Criminals know this and have many routes to exploit almost everyone's dependence on free, public Wi-Fi networks that you can find almost anywhere. Like I said, I'm always on the hunt for a new Wi-Fi hotspot. I'm also security conscious, though, and I've had to think like a hacker to keep myself safe from them.

Here are a few of the most common ways that crooks can get their hands on your most important information through public Wi-Fi.

Honeypot Wi-Fi networks

Unrestricted Wi-Fi networks are a security risk both to people who choose not to secure their Wi-Fi and to the people who seek out unsecured networks to exploit.

An unsecured wireless network can be appealing when you're out and about. Chances are good that you'll want to pair your phone or tablet to a Wi-Fi network to save data.

What a hacker might do is take note of any local businesses that advertise free Wi-Fi and name their "rogue" network something similar.

If they get access to your PC through a rogue Wi-Fi network, a crook can easily install malware, keyloggers and any number of stuff that you don't want on your PC.
How do you stay safe? Well, keeping off of unsecured public Wi-Fi networks is one way. If you're willing to take a not-so-bad amount of risk onto your shoulders, though, you can make sure that you know what network you're connecting to before you connect.

If a coffee shop advertises free Wi-Fi, the only way to be sure that you're connecting to the right place would be to ask an employee exactly what their free network is named.

Packet sniffing

I've always thought that "sniffing" was a weird way to describe how packet sniffing works. If anything, it's more like an info-magnet.

If a network isn't "switched" (something that you can never be sure about on a public Wi-Fi), then the right program can direct traffic through a hacker.
Normally, your computer ignores any data being transmitted from a wireless router to another computer. A packet sniffer tells your computer to start reading that information.

If I showed you what a hacker sees when they run a packet sniffer, you'd have no idea what any of it means. It's really byte-sized pieces of information being transmitted wirelessly from your computer to a router. Packet sniffers reach out and snatch enough of this data to recompile exactly what information you're sending.

With a little know-how, hackers can figure out anything that you've typed into your computer. This means that they can figure out your username and password for any account that you access on public Wi-Fi.

Of course, all of this requires the network to be vulnerable and a hacker to be connected. It seems like a no-brainer to never connect to any important sites. Online shopping, banking and email could put you in the crosshairs of potential information thieves.

Shared folders

The basic purpose of a computer network, transferring data, can be most dangerous when it happens on a public Wi-Fi.

You don't have to be a hacker to take advantage of shared folders. In fact, anyone who looks around their network folders can instantly hunt for anyone who doesn't know how important their security can be.

Similarly, an enterprising hacker or prankster might share a "honeypot" folder on a public network. If your computer is connected, you might see it under your "shared" folders as something that might seem snoopable.

Let's say a hacker names a file "bankrecords.txt," they could embed dangerous malware into that file that, if opened, might infect your computer with something dangerous. When it comes to file sharing on public Wi-Fi, share nothing and don't be too nosy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus Display is the best there is (well, almost) by Mark Hachman

Galaxy Note 4 apparently edged out the recent Apple iPhone 6 Plus in terms of display quality, even though the analyst reviewing it basically called Apple’s displays the best he’s seen to date.
Samsung’s recent

In a report released Monday, DisplayMate’s Raymond Soneira—who does nothing more than test smartphone displays, by the way—called the iPhone 6 Plus display the “best performing smartphone LCD display that we have ever tested,” Soneira wrote. “The iPhone 6 Plus has raised the bar for top LCD display performance up by a notch,” he added.

High praise indeed for the iPhone 6 Plus. But that doesn’t make the iPhone 6’s display the best, period—an odd little caveat that may inspire a new round of back-and-forth between Samsung and Apple fanboys. “We recently gave the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 our overall Best Smartphone Display award, and for the time being that continues for all of the reasons originally mentioned there,” Soneira wrote in his report.
Phone 6 Plus Apple
Apple’s iPhone 6 uses a 1334x750, 326-ppi pixel display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 1920x1080 pixel display with 401 ppi. Apple calls both displays ‘Retina HD,” and executives made a big deal at the iPhone 6 launch describing how good they look.

Still, Soneira wasn’t nearly as effusive about the display quality of the smaller iPhone 6. “The display on the iPhone 6 is none-the-less still a Very Good display, and most buyers will be happy with its performance, but it’s somewhat disappointing that Apple went for satisfactory as opposed to the best,” Soneira wrote. “Maybe that was done for intentional product differentiation with the iPhone 6 Plus, or perhaps to improve their margins… With a 1920x1080 display the iPhone 6 would have taken the crown.”

According to DisplayMate’s tests, the iPhone 6 Plus breaks all sorts of records, including the highest peak brightness, lowest screen reflectance, highest (true) contrast ratio, highest contrast in ambient light, and more. But it doesn’t exceed competitors in terms of resolution, pixels per inch, and absolute color accuracy.

Still, both displays should satisfy casual users and creative types alike. With a nearly perfect 99-percent sRGB color gamut for the iPhone 6 and 101-percent for the iPhone 6 Plus, the displays will be almost be perfectly color-accurate. And in a nod to anyone who uses their phone outside in the bright summer sun (which is, naturally, everyone), both phones combine high screen brightness and low screen reflectance, critical to outdoor performance. Specifically, they both provide 550 cd/m2 luminance, DisplayMate found. 
In general, the two iPhone 6 displays are also both more power-efficient than other full-HD LCD smartphones. But the Note 4 outclassed the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when used to view a mixture of different images, consuming 21 percent less power. If the display were simply powered on to a white screen, however (such with a flash light app), the two iPhone displays would consume 45 percent less power than the Note 4.

“The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the current Best Mobile LCD Displays and the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 are the current Best Mobile OLED Displays,” DisplayMate concluded.  So as we concluded in our review of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Yes, bigger is indeed better.

How to downgrade your iPhone or iPad from iOS 8 to iOS 7 by Christopher Breen

As you’re more than aware, iOS 8 is out and it’s packed with a lot of great features. But suppose you’ve updated from iOS 7 to the latest version of iOS and aren’t entirely pleased with it. Perhaps you have an older iPad or iPhone and find it runs more slowly, or your favorite apps don’t behave well with it.

For the time being, you can revert to iOS 7, but you probably won’t be able to for long. In order to install an older version of iOS, Apple must continue to authorize it (something it calls “signing”). Generally, Apple stops signing older versions of iOS within days of the newest version shipping. As I write this, it’s still possible. But it may not be in the very near future, so act now if you’re going to at all.

The first trick is finding a copy of iOS 7.1.2 for your device. If you’re lucky you’ll find it by going to the Library folder in your user folder (hold down the Option key and then click on the Go menu to see the Library folder) and then look in the iTunes folder for some variety of Software Updates folder. Again, with luck, the iOS installer package you need is there.

However, these packages are routinely deleted by the Mac OS so yours may be gone. In that case you’ll want to turn to your web browser to search for iOS 7.1.2 ipsw. You’ll find a number of sites that can lead you to the files you need. Be sure to get the one that applies to your specific device.

Once you’ve downloaded it, plug your device into your Mac and then launch iTunes. Select your device and click on the Summary tab. Back up your device because you’re going to wipe all the data from it.

Now hold down the Option key (called Alt in many places outside the U.S.) and click on the Restore button. In the navigation sheet that appears locate the ipsw file you just downloaded and click Choose. As long as that version is still signed, it will be installed on your device. Again, this will wipe out all the data on it so be sure to have a backup.
Once it’s been restored you can then click the Restore Backup button to put your data and apps back on the device.

iPhone 6 pocket problems: Some buyers report that sitting down bends phones by Caitlin McGarry

The iPhone 6 Plus is a sizable phone, so large that it doesn’t fit in smaller pockets. But some buyers are finding a problem other than the fit: When they sit down for extended periods of time with the 6 Plus in their front pocket, the 5.5-inch phone bends ever so slightly.

The reports first surfaced on the MacRumors forums, where a handful of users have posted photos of their phones’ bent aluminum bodies. The original poster pocketed his 6 Plus for about 18 hours one day, mostly sitting, and provided photo evidence of his space gray phone’s resulting curvature.

iphone6 bent hanzoh/MacRumors forums
A MacRumors forum member reported that sitting for about 18 hours resulted in a bent iPhone 6 Plus.
The 6 Plus isn’t the first iPhone to launch with complaints out of the gate and it won’t be the last, but it’s unclear if this problem is affecting every one of the devices. I reached out to Apple and will update this story if or when they respond. The common cause seems to be sitting for hours on end with the phone in your pocket. The body of the 6 Plus is crafted out of thin aluminum, which bends under pressure, so it seems unsurprising (though upsetting) that the phone would cave in your pocket.

If more 6 Plus buyers report similar bending, we could have an Antennagate situation on our hands. Apple handed out free cases to iPhone 4 users who reported poor reception due to the phone’s antenna placement. As MacRumors noted, iPhone 5 and 5s owners have also experienced the bent phone phenomenon in the past. A hard case seems to prevent the aluminum from flexing.

Ironically, smartphone insurance company SquareTrade found that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are a couple of the toughest devices around. The 6 Plus bested Samsung’s Galaxy S5 in the large phone category (more than 5 inches), though SquareTrade didn’t test the phones for flexibility, just breakability.

Use an iPad Power Adapter to Charge Your iPhone 6 Faster by Thorin Klosowski

If you're looking to boost the charging speed of your new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, the folks
over at iLounge found that the new iPhone models can take a 2.1 amp charge—like what you'll find in iPad chargers—to recharge a bit faster.

According to some preliminary tests, iLounge found that both models can charge faster using a 2.1A supply, even though they ship with a 1A power supply. Forum members over at MacRumors found similar results. Assuming the new iPhone models can actually take in the full 2.1A charge, this makes sense, since the added juice can actually be used to charge quicker, unlike on older iPhone models that'll only take the 1A regardless of which adapter you use. Either way, if you have an iPad (or other) charger sitting around, give it a try, there's no risk to damaging your iPhone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to double your free OneDrive storage to 30GB by Brad Chacos

Good news, OneDrive users: A mere three months after Microsoft doubled the free storage tier from 7GB to 15GB, the company's ready to double your gratis storage space yet again—but only if you act quickly.

Playing off the social media whirlwind raging around iOS 8's need for 5GB-plus of hard drive space—forcing many iPhone users to delete apps and media in order to upgrade—Microsoft announced it will double OneDrive users' free storage capacity to a whopping 30GB if you enable the option to automatically back up your phone's photos to OneDrive by the end of September. (iCloud offers 5GB of free storage, in comparison.)
Further reading: Microsoft's OneDrive: Your ultimate starter's guide
"We’ve been listening to the commentary about storage on the new iPhones released today and we wanted to get you more storage right away," OneDrive group program manager Douglas Pearce wrote on the OneDrive blog. "We think you’ll appreciate having more free storage while setting up your iPhone 6 or upgrading to iOS 8."

And Microsoft, no doubt, will appreciate you eating up your OneDrive storage with phone-uploaded photos, making it more likely you'll eventually become a paid OneDrive subscriber. It's still a stellar offer, sure, but one that's not entirely altruistic.

How to get 30GB free OneDrive storage

Don't let all the iPhone talk fool you: The offer also extends to Android, Windows Phone, and Windows users of the OneDrive app. You'll find the camera backup option in the Settings section of the OneDrive app, or by heading to Charms Bar > Settings > Change PC Settings > OneDrive > Camera roll on a Windows 8.1 device.
onedrive storage
The extra OneDrive storage space shows up in your account quickly.
If you just want the free space and don't want to actually back up your photos to Microsoft's cloud—a perfectly reasonable precaution in these post-celebrity-photo-hack days—just back up all your photos to your PC, then delete them on your phone prior to enabling the OneDrive app's automatic photo backup option. Once you get your extra storage, simply disable the option again. (The additional 15GB showed up within minutes of my activating the feature on the OneDrive Android app.)

Remember: You need to activate automatic photo backups by the end of September to get the extra free storage space. You can download OneDrive here if this offer is convincing enough to make you hop on Microsoft's cloud storage bandwagon.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Urgent: New crucial steps to wipe your smartphone or tablet by Kim Komando

Have you recently upgraded your computer, smartphone or tablet? You might be wondering what to do with your old one, besides letting it sit in a closet or drawer.

Whether you sell it, recycle it, give it to charity or use it as a doorstop, there's one thing you must, absolutely, without a doubt, do first. I'm talking about wiping out your personal information.

Reminder: Check your gadget's DVD drive, USB port or card reader to make sure you haven't left any discs, flash drives or memory cards behind.

Whether it's passwords, tax documents, contacts, personal photos, home videos or anything else sensitive, you don't want it falling into the wrong hands. You don't just want to delete it either.

Deleted files aren't really gone - they're just hidden. Anyone who knows what they're doing can find them.

To keep your information safe, you need to permanently wipe it out. I'll tell you how to do this on your computer, smartphone and tablet, and I'll start with a computer.


One surefire way to destroy your data for good is to physically destroy the computer's hard drive. You can hit it with a hammer, crush it or reuse it with one of these creative ideas.

If you decide to destroy it, make sure to safely dispose of the parts. You can find out where to safely recycle your tech on this site.

Of course, you don't want to destroy the hard drive if you plan on trading in, selling or giving away your computer. In that case, you need another way to remove your personal information.

Unfortunately, you can't just drag sensitive files to your Recycle Bin and then empty it. Deleting files that way only hides them temporarily until the operating system overwrites them.

Anyone with the right tools will be able to recover them. The fastest way to permanently erase personal information is to wipe your hard drive.

On Windows 8, put the mouse cursor in the top right corner of the screen and select Settings and then Change PC Settings. Select "Update and recovery" and click Recovery. Under "Remove everything and reinstall Windows," click Get Started.

If you use Windows 7 or earlier, click here for instructions to reinstall the operating system.

Wiping your hard drive will make it tough for thieves to steal your information, but not impossible. For even better security, you want to wipe the drive several times.

That's where a program like Darik's Boot and Nuke comes in handy. It wipes and overwrites your drive several times so that every file is completely destroyed.

Important note: DBAN only works for conventional magnetic hard drives. If you have a solid-state drive, the manufacturer should have included a secure erase program.

Keep in mind that wiping your hard drive means you'll need to re-install the operating system and programs. This can be a hassle, especially if you no longer have the original installation disks.

Another option is to delete only your sensitive files. This will leave the operating system and software intact.

First, remove your computer's User Account. This is what stores nearly all of your personal files and settings. In Windows, go to Control Panel>>User Accounts. Click Manage User Accounts, select your User Account and click the Delete Account link.

You may have to sign in as the administrator to finish this. If you only have one account, you'll need to create a new administrator account, sign in to the new account and then delete your old account.

For Mac, go to System Preferences>>Accounts. Click the lock icon in the lower left corner and enter the administrator username and password. Select your user account and click the Delete button. Click Delete Immediately to remove all your user files.

Once that's done, use a program like Eraser for Windows or Permanent Eraser for Mac to wipe the free space on your hard drive or delete specific files. The program overwrites the selected area several times to prevent anyone from recovering it.

Reminder: These programs are for conventional drives only. Don't use them with a solid-state drive.

I recommend this method only if you plan on giving away your computer to someone you know and trust. That way, if you accidentally forget to delete some sensitive files, it won't be so damaging.

Smartphones and Tablets

The easiest way to erase personal data on a smartphone or tablet is with a factory reset. You'll also want to remove any SIM card or SD card that might be in the gadget.

For Apple gadgets, go to Settings>>General>>Reset. Select "Erase All Content and Settings" and then tap the red button that pops up.

For Androids, things are a bit more complicated. There was a huge news story recently when security company avast! decided to see how good a factory reset is. So, it grabbed 20 used Android phones that were reset and went fishing.

Avast! managed to pull more than 40,000 photos from the phones, including more than 1,500 pictures of children, 750+ racy images of women and 250+ nude males selfies. Of course, avast! also got Google searches, emails, texts, contacts and one complete loan application.

Getting rid of that kind of stuff is the whole point of wiping your phone, so avast's news was a little worrying.

Naturally, avast! says the solution is to use the "thorough wipe" feature in its paid app. However, there are other ways.

The phones avast! tested were running older versions of Android, which aren't as secure. To see what version of Android you're running, go to Settings>>About Phone and look under Android version.

If you have a gadget running Android 4.1 or higher, you can go to Settings>>Personal>>Backup & Reset. Then select the Factory data reset button. That is enough, but you can follow the instructions below if you want to be double sure.

For older gadgets, you'll want to encrypt your files before you wipe the phone. The factory reset will keep casual snoops away, and encrypting the data will make it impossible for techies to read anything they do find.

To encrypt your phone, go to Settings>>Security. If you can't find the option there, check your gadget's manual - every version of Android has it somewhere a little different.

After you've turned on encryption, go to Settings>>Personal>>Backup & Reset. Then select the Factory data reset button.

Note: I don't normally recommend turning on encryption on a gadget you still use. If you forget the password, your files are lost forever.

Windows Phone

For Windows Phone 8, go to Settings>>About>>Reset Phone. A pop-up menu will ask you to confirm.

Before you do this, make sure the information you need is already on your new smartphone or tablet. Once you've done this, you can't recover anything.

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5 tips to extend your smartphone or tablet's battery by Kim Komando

Take a picture. Send a text. Play a game. Check email. Make a call. Get directions. Then, all this threatens to stop cold in an instant.

A smartphone or tablet's low battery warning is the only warning that most people take seriously. A dead battery doesn't have to happen to you. Turning off a few features and changing some settings can give your gadget's battery life a dramatic boost.

1. Let there be (less) light

One of the biggest battery drains is your gadget's screen, especially for larger smartphones. The longer the screen is on and the brighter it is, the faster your battery goes. That makes sense. Something has to power those pixels.

Android, iOS and Windows Phone automatically adjust the screen's brightness for you based on two things: the light in the room and how long the screen has been on. Take control back.

Try setting the screen as dark as you can stand it and still read a text. Darkening the screen, by the way, is common among teenagers. It makes it really hard for Mom and Dad to see what's showing on their phone or tablet.

In iOS, go to Settings>>Wallpapers & Brightness. Set it to manual and turn down the brightness to the lowest level you can comfortably use the gadget.

You can also tell the screen how quickly to turn off when you aren't using the gadget. The faster it shuts down, the more power you save. Go to Settings>>General>>Auto-Lock to adjust the timer.

For Android, go to Settings>>Display and tap Brightness. Uncheck "Automatic brightness" and adjust the slider. Then go to "Screen timeout" below it to adjust how fast the screen shuts off.

On some phones, you can also swipe down from the top of the screen and the brightness controls will be above the notification area.

For Windows Phone, swipe left from the Start screen and tap Settings>>Brightness. Turn off automatic brightness and choose either "low," "medium" or "high" brightness. You'll want "low" as long as the phone is still usable.

2. Turn off the signals

Your gadgets do a lot of communicating in the background. They're checking for things like new emails, text messages, Wi-Fi signals, Bluetooth signals, your location and more.

This activity does a number to drain battery life, so you want to turn off whatever you aren't using.

For iOS 7, go to Control Center - just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. There, you can turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you don't use AirDrop - it lets you share files and photos with other Apple users - turn it off, too. Control Panel and AirDrop are both features you should be using when you do have a charged battery. Click here to learn more about them.

Some Android gadgets have home-screen widgets to control Wi-Fi, etc. Others let you swipe down from the top of the screen for quick-access buttons. Otherwise, you can go to Settings>>Wireless & Networks to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

In Windows Phone, go to the App list and tap Settings>>Wi-Fi and turn off Wi-Fi networking. If you only want it off for a while, go to Turn Wi-Fi back on and choose when it should turn back on.

Location Services is another feature that drains your battery. It uses GPS, Wi-Fi and cell towers to tell apps your location. In your settings, you can specify which apps have access to Location Services.

To turn it off in iOS 7, go to Settings>>Privacy>>Location Services. For Android, it's under Settings>>Personal>>Location Services. Windows Phone has it under App list>>Settings>>Location.

3. Know your apps

Not every app is as battery efficient as you might like. Some iOS apps run continually in the background even when you aren't using them. To turn this feature off, go to Settings>>General>>Background App Refresh.

In Android, see what apps are draining your battery under Settings>>Battery Usage. You can then close or uninstall problem apps.

For both iOS and Android, you can get more powerful free third-party battery apps like Battery Saver. For example, it monitors your phone to see which apps are burning up your battery life. That makes it easy to get rid of or turn off power-hogging apps you don't need or use.

4. Turn off notifications

Another way to improve battery life is stop the constant flow of notifications and updates from Facebook, email, games, sites and apps.

Your phone will automatically pull these when it's connected to the Internet, and they can have a noticeable impact on battery life.

To stop email updates in iOS 7, switch your email settings from "push" to "fetch."

Go to Settings>>Mail and select Contacts and Calendar. From there, change the mail settings to Fetch.

If you're getting buried in Candy Crush updates, turn off these notifications to save juice. Then beat Candy Crush with these handy tips and tricks.

Go to Settings>>Notification Center. From there, find the Include section and choose which notifications you want to turn off.

On Androids, you have to turn off Notifications in the settings menu for each individual app. If you turn off notifications for email or social media, you can still check these manually.

5. Battery saving mode

For a quick way to extend your battery, simply put your gadget in Airplane Mode. If Airplane Mode is too limiting, some phones have a specific battery saver mode.

This shuts down non-essentials like Wi-Fi, automatic email checking, some updates and more. As an extreme example, the Samsung Galaxy S5 turns on a custom energy-saving look for the operating system and basically just works for phone calls and texts.

For Android, go to Settings and turn "Power saving mode" to "On." In Windows Phone, go to the App list>>Settings and tap Battery saver.

These tips are great for now, but both iOS 8 and Android "L" are coming later this year. iOS 8 will improve its battery usage monitoring to give you more control, similar to what Android has now. Find out more about iOS 8 and what's new about it.

Android L is getting serious tweaks to how it uses power across the board. In early testing, it improves battery life more than 30 percent over the current version of Android.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

How to easily convert your old DVDs into digital files you can watch anywhere by Annabel Halpert

You spent years collecting your favorite movies on DVD, and now what? If you’re like most Americans, those bulky boxes of discs are either sitting in a box in the closet or gathering dust on a shelf. The advent of the digital age has liberated your music collection by making it easy to rip CDs for playback on your smartphone --wouldn’t you like to have the same experience with your movies?

Fortunately, turning your DVD-based movies into high-quality digital files that you can play anywhere is now easier than ever. All you need is your Mac, a SuperDrive, and a copy of Aiseesoft Mac Video Converter Ultimate.

Video Converter Ultimate lets you pop in a DVD and rip the contents to a digital file that you can then stream to all your devices. It even lets you snip out clips, edit your videos to add titles and effects, and convert your DVD to 3D for playback on 3D-compatible devices. And it includes hundreds of ready-to-use profiles for almost any kind of device, including game consoles and a lot of specific models of phones and media players.
You can also use Video Converter Ultimate to convert files from one digital format to another, and even convert YouTube videos to other formats for playback on your devices.
To get started, insert a DVD, launch the app, and click ‘Load Disc.’  Video Converter Ultimate will automatically discover your DVD’s contents. 

Under the Profile menu, select the type of device you want to view your movie on. If you just want a multipurpose video file, you can just choose HD Video and select HD MPEG-4. However, if you think you’ll mostly be watching on your iPad, you can create a smaller file that’s optimized for that device by choosing Apple iPad from the menu. If you think you’ll be streaming it to your Apple TV, that setting will create a file optimized for bigger screens, but still compressed for streaming over your home Wi-Fi network.

Choosing an output profile that’s suited to the device you’ll be viewing on -- without going overboard -- will cut down on conversion time and help avoid taking up too much disk space. But if you really want the maximum video quality, and don’t mind the extra time and storage capacity it will take, choose H.264 MPEG-4 from the HD Video options. You can also choose a 3D profile compatible with your 3D TV, if you have one.

Once you’ve selected your output profile, click Browse and select the folder where you’d like to save the file. When you’re ready, click Convert to start the process.

Depending on your settings and your Mac’s specs, this can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. So if you want to rip an epic to H.264 MPEG-4, it’s a good idea to let it do its thing overnight.

Once your video is done converting, you can click Clip to extract a few of your favorite scenes for quick viewing, convert it to 3D, or edit it to add your own enhancements. When you’re satisfied, either drag the file into iTunes to share it across your devices or copy it to a thumb drive to take it anywhere, or share your file directly to YouTube. It’s that easy. Now just repeat for any DVD you want to convert, and soon those dusty anachronisms can find a new home -- out on the curb.

Uber-Nerd James May Explains How Digital Cameras Work

8 essential browser Tips & Tricks by Kim Komando

The Web browser is a funny thing. It's one of the most-used computer programs, but many people don't really understand it. That's why in the past I've tackled common browser myths and misconceptions.

Today, I'm helping you get the most out of your browser with a few simple tricks that you really need to know. Your friends and family probably want to know these as well, so be sure to click the Share button.

Choose your home page

What's the first thing you see when your browser starts up? If you're using Internet Explorer, it's probably MSN's website. Chrome loads up a modified Google page and Firefox has its own start page.

But if you then type in an address or hit a bookmark button to go to the same website first thing, then why not have your browser start there?

In Chrome, click the icon on the right with the three horizontal bars and choose Settings. On the left column, choose Settings and then look under On Startup.
Set it to "Open a specific page or set of pages" and then click the "Set pages" link.  Type in one or more Web addresses and click OK. Those will load up when Chrome starts.

Need a suggestion for a home page? Try the all-new It's your one-stop site for the best in tech news, tips, tricks, reviews, downloads, videos and so much more. And now it's updated all day long.

In Firefox, click the orange Firefox button and select Options>>Options. On the General tab, set "When Firefox starts" to "Show my homepage." Then under that, type in the address you want for your home page. Then click OK.

If you want to load multiple pages, load them up in tabs and then click the "Use Current Pages" button. Or you can click "Use Bookmark..." and select a folder of bookmarks.
In Internet Explorer, click the gear icon on the right and select Internet Options. Go to the General tab and under "Home page" enter the Web address or addresses you want to see on startup.

In Safari on Apple, go to Safari>>Preferences. On the General tab, go do to "Homepage" and type in an address.

Pin tabs

This one is for Chrome and Firefox users who have favorite sites they leave open all day. Load up the site, right-click on the browser tab and choose "Pin Tab."

Your tab will be moved to a smaller tab on the left side of the tab bar. That way no matter how many tabs you have open, you always know where your favorite sites are.
To unpin a tab, just right-click and choose "Unpin Tab."

Middle-click to open tabs

If you're using a mouse that was made after the mid-2000s, then it probably has a scroll wheel. Did you know that if you press down on the scroll wheel it acts as a middle mouse button?

OK, you knew that. But did you know that clicking on a link with the middle mouse button opens that link in a new browser tab? If you didn't, give it a try. It will change your life - or at least your browsing.

For laptop users, sometimes pressing both trackpad buttons at once works as a middle click. Or you can left-click a link while holding the CTRL key.

Zoom text

Have you ever visited a page with text that was too small? If you've ever leaned in close to a computer monitor to read, you need to know this.

To zoom text - and images - in any browser, just press CTRL and the plus key at the same time. Hit it a few time to zoom way in. Too far? Hit CTRL and the minus key to zoom back out. CTRL and the zero key resets the zoom.

Or, you can hold down the CTRL key and spin your mouse scroll wheel. That will zoom in and out as well.

Browse privately

Don't want your significant other knowing what his or her birthday present is? Want to make it hard for snoops to know where you're going online? Just fire up your browser's privacy mode.
Click here for the simple instructions.

See if your browser needs updating

An out-of-date browser is very dangerous. It might have unfixed security flaws that hackers can use to take over your computer.

Or you might just be missing out on some of the latest and greatest Internet sites that use newer Web standards. Either way, keeping your browser up to date is essential.
Click here to instantly find out what browser you're using and if there's a newer version.

See your online accounts and passwords

Do you remember every online account you’ve ever made? I know I sure don’t. If you’re like me, you’ve probably created dozens of accounts that you only used once.
That’s actually very dangerous. It means your information is floating around on dozens or hundreds of websites that may or may not be secure.
Click here to make your browser show you old accounts and passwords.

Turn on encryption

What's the difference between "http://" and "https://" in your browser's address bar? If you see the first one while you're on a sensitive site, you have a problem. That's because it means your connection isn't encrypted.

Encryption is what keeps your communication safe from hackers. While any sensitive site supports encryption, some of them don't have it turned on by default because it slows things down. Well, you can force it to use encryption anyway so you stay safe.
Click here to automatically turn on encryption for any site that supports it.

Power through tabs like a pro

In Firefox, Chrome, and IE, try CTRL + Tab to move across your tabs quickly; this is a great tip for power users who have a lot of tabs to rush through.

On the Mac, Firefox and Chrome let you do the same thing with OPT + CMD + right arrow.
And did you close a tab you didn't mean to? ALT + SHIFT + T will bring it back!

Got an iPhone 6? Do these 10 things first by Susie Ochs

It’s here! Your iPhone is here! Did you hug the UPS man? Thing Zero to do as you rip it out of the box is to not drop it, whatever you do. (Did you see that poor Australian kid? Ouch. Well, at least it didn’t shatter on him.)

We’ve got a fully comprehensive setup guide if you need step-by-step assistance—think of this as the Cliffs Notes version. These are the 10 things you should do first.

1. Back up your old phone

I forgot to do this first, so once I’d turned my new iPhone on and it asked if I wanted a new phone or a restored backup, I had to sadly put the phone down and pick up my suddenly small-and-sad-seeming iPhone 5c. iTunes is the fastest way to do a backup, so tether to your Mac with the appropriate USB cable (I know, like a caveman) and fire up iTunes. Select your iPhone, and under Backups, choose This Computer. Checking Encrypt local backup is a good idea not just for privacy, but also because that way your account passwords are stored and you won’t have to enter them all again. Click the button to Back up now.
restore from backup photo
iCloud, eye-schmoud. Backing up and restoring with iTunes is so much faster. 

2. Restore from backup

Tell your phone you want to restore to an iTunes backup. Yes, you’ll need a cord again. Once your phone is up and running and everything’s how you like, then you can switch back to iCloud backups if you prefer, in Settings > iCloud > Backup. But it never hurts to run a backup on your own Mac every now and then.

3. Finish the setup

Even after you’re done restoring, you still have a few more setup steps. You’ll enter your iCloud account password, enter a second security code if you’re using two-factor authentication on said iCloud account, agree to the iCloud terms and conditions, and set up how people can reach you over iMessage and Face Time. Any of this can be skipped and done later if you’re in a hurry, but might as well get it out of the way now.

4. Set up your Touch ID

touch id
If you're upgrading from an iPhone 5 or 5c, welcome to the future: Touch ID is really cool.
The next step in the setup is creating your Touch ID. Follow the instructions, which have you repeatedly touching the home button’s fingerprint sensor so it can learn your unique fingerprint. It even has you touch with the edges of your thumb so it can get a full picture. You’ll also set a passcode for backup—it’s also used after a restart. Learn more about Touch ID in iOS 8, and don’t worry that it only asks you about one finger at the moment. Later on your can visit Settings > Passcode to do it again with your other thumb or extra fingers. The last step in Touch ID setup is deciding if you want to use that fingerprint to authorize purchases in the iTunes Store and App Store. If your Apple ID’s password is appropriately complex, using your fingerprint instead is a huge time saver.
display zoom splash
Bonus: If you go with Standard view, you get room for an extra row of icons.

5. Pick a size with Display Zoom

I went with standard, which keeps the app icons and touch targets the same size, just giving me more space around them. The zoomed view enlarges everything. Apple helpfully gives you a three-panel preview, including how the home screen would look with each setting, as well as a sample Messages screen and a sample email in Mail. Nice touch, Apple.

6. Peruse the settings

That’s it! You’re in! Your home screen might have an empty row where you can keep more app icons, but once you’re done fiddling with that, I always like to pop open the Settings app and check out the new options, as well as update the settings that carried over from my last phone. We’ve got a handy guide to everything that’s changed in Settings in iOS 8.

7. Update your apps

Tons of developers are updating their apps to use all the new tricks in iOS 8 like extensions, widgets, and interactive notifications. So be sure to head to the App Store and update everything. You can have all your apps auto-update by flipping the Updates switch in Settings > iTunes & App Stores > Automatic Downloads, but I actually prefer to update manually because I’m addicted to reading the "What's New" release notes that come with each update. I like to know what’s changed, and though auto-updaters can pop into the App Store’s Updates tab and read them after an update, I know I wouldn’t bother.

8. Install some widgets

iOS 8 lets app developers write widgets that live in your Notifications Center. Third-party calendar apps can show your upcoming appointments just like Apple’s Calendar app can. Package-tracking wonder app Slice has a widget that updates you on shipping status for incoming packages, and Amazon’s Kindle app has a widget that works as a shortcut to the books you were reading last. To find them, pull down from the top of your screen to show your Notification Center, then scroll to the bottom, tap Edit, and on the next screen you can choose which apps’ widgets you want and drag them into your preferred order.
widgets and tips
Your newly updated apps should have some widgets you can enable (left), and maybe the Tips app can teach you a trick or two (right).

9. Open the Tips app

Apple added a brand-new app in iOS 8 called Tips. True to its name, it gives you tips about using your device. It’s got handy, bite-sized chunks of info that you probably know already, but maybe haven’t tried them out yet. Some of them maybe you forgot you ever knew in the first place, like asking Siri to identify currently playing songs.

10. Call your mom

I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.
What did we leave out? What’s the first thing you’re always itching to do with a shiny new iPhone? Let us know, and have a happy New iPhone Day.

Why Is My Internet Suddenly So Slow? by Adam Dachis

Dear Lifehacker,
I have a fast internet connection, but it doesn't always earn the title. Sometimes I get half the speed I pay for during certain times of the day. Other times my upstream connection barely works. I've done all the usual modem resetting tech support always requires but I still have the problem. Any ideas?
Sporadically Sluggish

Dear SS,
Yes, I have a lot of ideas! Internet connections slow down for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the fault belongs to your internet service provider (ISP) and sometimes you're the culprit. It may be a little bit of both. Let's take a look at some common causes of internet slowdown and get to the bottom of this.

It's Not Your Connection, It's Your Wi-Fi

You have a fast connection, but Wi-Fi can degrade that speed in all sorts of ways. Most people won't enjoy all their bandwidth because Wi-Fi reception usually sucks. There are numerous ways to improve it, but they'll only take you so far. When using the internet wirelessly, you often have to lower your expectations a little bit.

Let's take a look at what you can expect under ideal circumstances (not the maximum theoretical speeds each wireless technology can provide):
  • Using 802.11ac: Around 50-80mbps (downstream), depending on the quality of your reception. Unless you have an internet connection capable of exceeding those speeds, you probably don't have to worry about slowness.
  • Using 802.11n: Around 25-30mbps (downstream), and much less if you have poor reception. Although 802.11n theoretically can handle faster speeds, and certain routers can boost your bandwidth a bit using technologies like MIMO, speeds in this range are pretty common.
  • Using 802.11g: Around 5-15mbps (downstream). It's probably time to upgrade your router if you have a faster connection.
Before you assume you aren't getting the speeds you pay for, make sure your expectations are correct. Try the same, slow download or run a speed test from a computer that's hard-wired (via gigabit ethernet, preferably) and compare the results. If that machine provides the speeds you expect, you have a Wi-Fi problem. If that's happening in a part of your home prone to bad reception, move somewhere else. If you want to try and improve your Wi-Fi reception to avoid these sorts of issues, however, try these tips.

It's Not Your Connection, It's Someone Else's

Why Is My Internet Suddenly So Slow?
Just because a speed test reveals your connection is capable of certain data rates doesn't mean you'll always get them. For example, if your connection provides 25mbps downstream, the server you're connecting to has to provide the same speed upstream just to you. You're not the only one connecting, so that's a lot of bandwidth. Major sites do have crazy amounts of bandwidth and can match your speeds on numerous occasions, but many will not. This doesn't mean there's something wrong with your connection, but that the server you're connecting to cannot match your speeds.

How can you tell? If your speed test looks good that's one sign. Personally, I like to have a reliable server I can connect to and download from at a specific rate. I test those speeds to find out if I can max out my connection or not. Web hosts tend to work well. So does Usenet. If you don't have a good place to check outside of a speed test, keep an eye out for generally reliable sites with downloadable content. When you come across one that provides consistently fast downloads, just give it a try when you think your connection isn't performing at its peak.

Um...You Left BitTorrent On (or Other Downloads)

Why Is My Internet Suddenly So Slow?
If you have multiple computers (or a NAS) in the house, you might forget you've left a bandwidth hog like BitTorrent running. BitTorrent seeds (uploads) files you've finished downloading to a potentially unlimited number of people for an indefinite amount of time. Downloading, at least, will stop when the file arrives. In the event you don't have files adding themselves regularly through automation, you don't have to worry about a drain on your downstream connection. Uploading, however, can take a big hit if you forget to turn BitTorrent off.

You can solve this problem simply by checking anytime your connection seems slow, but if you regularly forget that won't help much. Fortunately, most BitTorrent clients—like our favorites for Windows, OS X, and Linux—provide bandwidth caps and scheduling. Using caps allow you to always limit the amount of your upstream and downstream connection that BitTorrent can use. Just give your client a number—say 100kbps—and it won't exceed that amount. Scheduling takes that a step further by applying those caps or stopping all traffic at specific times during the day. If you only want BitTorrent running while you're at work, you can limit its activity (or stop it altogether) by setting a bandwidth schedule in your client's preferences. Using either method, you'll avoid surprise drains on your internet connection.

Of course, BitTorrent isn't the only thing that bogs down your connection. Lots of other apps can run in the background and slow things down, either briefly or for quite awhile. Apps often automatically update themselves. App Stores and programs like Steam can causes a big bandwidth drain when downloading several updates, for example. Be sure to check on everything capable of utilizing your connection in the event a slowdown occurs. And if you want to learn to impose some limits, read the next section.

Your Router Isn't Doing Its Job

Why Is My Internet Suddenly So Slow?
Routers are tiny little computers that manage your network. Sometimes they require a bit too much of themselves and cause problems. That's why many routers require a regular restart. Sometimes you can easily fix this problem, but other times you may just have a bad router. Unfortunately, routers often don't fail by completely dying. Rather, they'll stop working well and you won't notice immediately. If your router turns into a declining dud, you'll probably want to get a new one.

A good router also has Quality of Service (QoS) settings, which can prevent bandwidth hogs from, well, hogging bandwidth. If people in your household tend to slow down a connection for any reason, you can cap their usage based on their IP address. You can also limit bandwidth based specific applications. To learn how to use QoS, read our networking night school lesson.

There's a Problem With Your Line or Modem

Why Is My Internet Suddenly So Slow?
Let's not forget one of the most common issues: your ISP. When you rent a modem from them, you usually end up with crappy, used hardware. Additionally, they provide the line to your home that gets you the internet, whether by phone, fiber, or cable. That line has to go outdoors where you'll find bugs, wild animals, hostile weather conditions, and more fun stuff. I've had a number of strange issues, including a gopher dig up and eat through a cable line. I've also had normal ones where equipment failed or a technician did a poor job of connecting the line to my building. Lots can happen, so if you've ruled everything else you should call your ISP.

Most ISPs won't want to send someone to your home without a little technical support, so pick a time where you can spare 30 minutes to unplug your modem, wait with them on the phone while they ask you about the weather, plug it back in again, and repeat the process another six times. Once you've indulged them, make it clear you want someone to come to your home and look at the issue.

When the technician comes, if they can't fix the problem outright you want to ask to have the line monitored as well. They may suggest this themselves, but if not you should ask for it. This way they can see if anything strange happens over the next few days and come back to replace the line if it does. Of course, the problem could be so many different things. Just make sure you keep your ISP looking into the issue until they solve it.

How to Speed Up a Slow iPhoto Library by Christopher Breen

Reader Marty Schettler is unimpressed with iPhoto’s speed. He writes:
I am a casual photographer who has amassed about 10,000 pictures in my iPhoto library. iPhoto now runs so slowly that it is essentially unusable (and occasionally tells me that my Library has been corrupted). I’ve heard a few people recommend switching to Aperture, adding iPhoto Library Manager, or jumping to an Adobe or Google product. I just want something where I can organize my photos by date/event and do very light editing. What do you recommend?
Given that the vast majority of us have been filmless for a decade or more, it does seem odd that iPhoto chokes on just 10,000 images. But you’re right, it can and does. Poky performance with largish libraries has been a feature of iPhoto for years and the latest edition is no exception.

And yes, there are several alternatives. Thankfully you’ve provided me with enough information that I can eliminate some of them.

If you’re really just interested in organizing and lightly editing your photos, the higher-priced spread will be overkill. Apple’s Aperture and Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop offer more features (and complexity) than you need. Even Photoshop Elements 12 may be a longer leap than you wish to make.

While you could look at some less-expensive (and less complicated) applications such as the $20 Lyn or $30 Pixa or even the free Picasa (which I find kind of clumsy and ugly) I might suggest that you stay right where you are—with iPhoto.

“Gee,” I can hear you say, “I’m so glad I took the time to get in touch with you just to learn that I should do absolutely nothing.”

Ah but no. I suggest you do something, but that something is acquire and use the iPhoto enhancement you’ve mentioned—Fat Cat Software’s $30 iPhoto Library Manager.
I suggest iPLM because you seem to be familiar with iPhoto and, I presume, you’ve organized your photos in a way that pleases you. Why start over with another application? Where iPhoto fails is in the speed department. With iPhoto Library Manager you can continue to run iPhoto just as you have, but you can use it to create multiple smaller libraries, which takes care of the speed issue. Here’s how I’d go about it.

Think long and hard about how you’d like to split up your existing library. For example, you might wish to gang together all the images from particular years or by the camera you used or by face or location. Once you’ve made that decision, launch iPhoto and choose File > New Smart Album. In the sheet that appears configure the conditions to match your organizational strategy. So, for example, Date is in the range 1/1/2010 to 12/31/2010 to gather together all the images created in 2010. Assign a name to your smart album and click OK to create it.
iphoto date
Create a smart album to organize your library.
Now launch iPhoto Library Manager and click the Create Library button in the top-left corner of the window. Give the album a descriptive name—2010 Photos, for example—and click Create.

Select the iPhoto Library entry (this reflects your current iPhoto library along with all the events, albums, projects, and slideshows it contains) and then locate the smart album you just created. Drag this album to the album you made in iPhoto Library Manager. It will then set about copying those images to a new album (this can take a long time and tie up your Mac if you’re moving a lot of images). Repeat the process if you want to create additional libraries.

If you’d simply like to browse your images you can do that directly within iPLM. Just launch it and select an album. The images it contains will appear as thumbnails to the right.
iphoto choose library
Hold down Option while launching iPhoto to choose your library.
When you want to work with one of these libraries in iPhoto you have two options for doing so. You can launch iPhoto Library Manager and double-click on the library you want to view. It will open in iPhoto. Alternatively, you can hold down the Option key while launching iPhoto. Do so and you’ll be prompted to choose a library.