Google+ December 2014 ~ High Tech House Calls

Do Dogs Really Miss Us?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New Service Offerings

Buying a new iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy?

•    Do you know how to back up your old cellphone?
•    How do you get the old data from the old phone onto your new phone?
•    What steps are necessary to you wipe your old phone so that none of your personal data is on it when you sell it?
•    Where do you sell you old phone for the most amount of money with the least amount of effort?

High Tech House Calls knows all the ins and outs of transferring data from one cellphone to another. Give us a call when your new cellphone arrives.

Did you upgrade your MacBook, MacBook Pro or Macbook Air to Yosemite?

Chances are your laptop is running slower than ever. Yosemite requires more computer memory than your previous Mac OS release. An easy fix is adding more memory (RAM) to your laptop.

Contact us with the serial number of your laptop and the amount of memory you have installed. We can lay out options and costs for the upgrade. High Tech House Calls will acquire the right memory for your laptop and install it for a $40 service charge. You will be charged what High Tech House Calls was charged for the memory. High Tech House Calls never charges a client more than we paid for hardware or software.


Let us find you a deal!

•    In the market for a new computer? High Tech House Calls can help you find a device between a desktop or laptop, Windows or Apple, tablet or Chromebook based on your individual needs.
•    When is a deal a real deal? Is the CPU (what is CPU?) so slow that the
computer is useless? After you buy the additional memory, is the total price no longer a real deal?
•    Who has time to look for a real deal? We have the experience in analyzing a deal quickly to determine if it fits your needs.

High Tech House Calls receives daily emails from numerous brick-and-mortar and online retailers of computers. Let us do the legwork for free!
Remodeling your home and thinking about a Home Theater?

How much experience does an electrician have in designing and installing Internet networks?

Where is the best place for your DSL or cable modem?  Your wireless router? How many wireless routers do you need?

What kind of cable should be used for wired internet connections?

We have certifications in both network design and security. Have us review your wiring diagram before the sheet-rock is put back up.
Website or Blog, Which is better?

The traditional approach to having an online presence is a website. Websites are complex to create and to maintain. Usually a web designer or graphic artist or both are involved. 

A blog is a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis. A personal website or web page, on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.

Blogs are easy to create and to add to. If you know how to create a document in Word, you can create a blog.

Why not use a blog instead of a website to promote your cause.

High Tech House Calls can provide a one on one personal training experience on creating and adding to a blog in just half a day. Give us a call to find out more.

How do you backup 200 GB's of pictures safely?

Is there something that combines an external hard drive with cloud storage in one package. Western Digital has the solution.
Click on this link for more details: My Cloud

A product this powerful and revolutionary comes with a 200 page manual. We have read it from cover to cover, highlighted and annotated the key points and have the experience from numerous client installations to tailor this solution to your particular needs.

Call us to see if this is the solution to your digital media storage problem. 

Things Your Mother Never Told You by Carl Thorne

1.    iCloud – what does it mean when iCloud does not have enough space to backup my iPhone? Apple gives you 5GBs of iCloud storage for free, but Apple wants you to buy more space. Usually, the biggest user of space is your Photo Stream.  You have three options: buy more iCloud storage from Apple, stop backing up your Photo Stream or use another cloud based solution such as DropBox to backup your photos.

2.    Samsung Galaxy S5 - I moved from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S5. Why? A bigger, brighter screen that was easier for me to read. More choices for replacements for the stock calendar application. Cheaper than the iPhone 6 by at least $100. Ability to add more storage using a micro SD card. For $12, I was able to add an additional 32GBs of storage to the 16 GBs the S5 came with out of the box. You cannot add more storage to an iPhone. You can also replace the battery on the S5 yourself. If you need a new iPhone battery, you have to take it to a repair place for a $60 fee.

3.    Dead iPhone battery at lunchtime? -  If you make an appointment with the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, they can test the battery for you. If the battery is defective and the iPhone is under warranty, the iPhone will be replaced. If the battery is not defective, the operating system image is corrupt and is causing the high battery drain. You need to backup your iPhone and restore it after resetting your iPhone.  There is high risk of losing your personal data if you are not careful on how you reset it. Best to contact an expert for help with this one.

4.    Java and Flash Player -  Both of these Internet browser plug-ins have the potential to expose your computer to security holes. One solution is to de-install one or both of these plug-ins. The reality is that many websites use these plug-ins and without them, your Internet browsing experience will be degraded. The key to minimize your exposure is keeping your plug-ins up to date. One way to do this is to install the Mozilla Firefox browser ( Once Firefox is installed, use the add-ins option under tools to test your plug-ins. Any out of date plug-ins will be flagged and a link to the updated plug-in will be provided.

5.    Backups – Any part of a backup strategy is a recovery strategy. Testing your backup by doing a recovery is a must.

6.    Recovery – "Garbage In, Garbage Out."  If your hard drive is failing, you are backing up corrupt files. Your recovery process will restore corrupt files. You must monitor your hard drive for signs of corruption. At the same time, multiple backups of the same files taken at different times are key to ensuring you have a viable backup that can be recovered if the time comes.

7.    External Hard Drives – If your external hard drive is within an arms length of your computer at all times, what happens if your computer is stolen or destroyed? Your external hard drive containing your backup is also stolen or destroyed.  Moving your external hard drive to another place in your house or business away from your computer makes sense when your external hard drive is not needed so as to prevent theft of everything your computer contains.

8.    Malware/Spyware – Computer viruses are no longer the sole means of delivering a payload to corrupt your computer. This class of infection is not detected or removed by most antivirus applications. Malwarebytes is my choice to remove malware/spyware (

9.    Magsafe AC Power Adapter Connection to your Mac laptop - Has your Mac laptop stopped charging or charges intermittently? Take an old toothbrush and clean out all the dirt and lint from the connection on your laptop where the Power Adapter connects. You should be seeing nothing but bright shiny metal after you are done.

10.    Car Chargers for newer iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S5 - With each new version of Smartphones, the electrical needs of those Smartphones are greater. Your old charger that worked fine for your iPhone 4S will not charge your iPhone 6. It will charge your Samsung Galaxy S5, but very slowly. When buying a car charger, look for a charger that says 2.1 amps.

11.    Portable Battery Stick for your Smartphone or tablet – I own two of these sticks. One is in my glove compartment of my car and the other is in my laptop case. This is one more way of making sure that you can charge your Smartphone or tablet in case you misplaced your wall charger or car charger.

12.    Risk of Not Updating Your iPhone or Mac Laptop -  Jumping from a much older release of Mac OS to the newest one raises your chances of the upgrade failing. Try to make timely upgrades as they are released by Apple. Always have a backup of your system before the attempted upgrade, just in case.

13.    External Hard Drive – This should be part of your backup/recovery strategy. Pay the extra money for one that has backup software included.

14.    Is Your Laptop (Mac or Windows) ready to use out of the box?  - See this link on what High Tech House Calls does to set you new computers. (Getting a New Computer Ready)

15.    Have a delivery to your home from Fed Ex scheduled but feel uncomfortable about leaving that brand new computer on your front steps for hours until you return home from work?  - Call Fed Ex and have them hold the package for you at a Fed Ex facility of your choosing. I pick one that is open 24 hours a day. The package is locked in a cage. You must present an ID to retrieve the package.

16.    Why buy a case for your Smartphone? - You will drop your Smartphone. I guarantee you will drop your Smartphone no matter how careful you are. If it cracks the screen, it will cost $100 to repair your iPhone and $200 to repair your Samsung Galaxy S5. A $50 OtterBox case seems like a small price to pay for this protection.

17.    What is the downside to using webmail to access your Internet service provider email account? -  Most Internet Service Providers make it very difficult to export your contracts from webmail to an application like Outlook. If you have 20 contacts that is not too much of a problem typing him into Outlook, but 3000 contacts is another matter. Stop using webmail as soon as possible to minimize the headache of moving your contacts.

18.    Why downloading software is a bad idea -  It is not easy to reinstall software you downloaded unless you store the download package in a safe place. The download package is usually too big to burn to a backup DVD. Unless you copied the download package to your cloud backup or external hard drive, you may not be able to download the software again without paying for it again.

19.    Samsung S5 battery saving ideas – Go to Settings-> Location-> Mode and select Power Saving. If you need to get step-by-step directions for a mapping application, the application will remind you to change from Power Saving to High Accuracy.

20.     Are my emails being backed up by cloud backup services such as Carbonite?  - Open files cannot be backed up reliably. If Outlook is running, your emails are not being backed up.

21.    Where can I sell my used Smartphone? -  I have used Gazelle ( five times and I have been happy with the price offered, ease of sending the Smartphone to them and speed of receiving payment.

22.    What is the case I recommend for your Smartphone?  - OtterBox ( Their website has a better selection of cases than you can find in a retail store. Beware buying a case in a retail store as there is a chance that case was returned. The rubber like material can be ripped if you are not careful assembling your case. I have bought a case at Best Buy that appeared to be new but was ripped when I got it home. Many times the price online, including postage, is better than buying at a retail store.

23.    OtterBox guarantee – If your case wears out, they will replace the case for free. I have not had any problems replacing three cases when the screen protector was scratched or the rubber part of the case was stretched out.

24.    Backing up your iPhone -  The easiest way to move from one iPhone to another is by restoring it from an iTunes backup. Connect your iPhone to your computer. Open iTunes and perform a backup to your computer.

25.    iPhoto – Photos are stored in iPhoto in a database. Once damaged, it may be impossible to access your photos. If the database becomes corrupt, there are no tools to repair the damage. A damaged database means that you cannot access your photos. Backing up your iPhoto library and keeping multiple copies of the library is critical.

Happy Holidays from High Tech House Calls

Wishing You and Your Family Peace and Joy This Holiday Season and Throughout the Coming New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ransomware: Should you pay or not? by Kim Komando

Last-minute holiday shopping is enough to leave anyone breathless.

Hackers know how stressful this time can be and will do their best to trick you into downloading dangerous malware. I'm talking about a particular kind of malware that will encrypt or otherwise lock all of your files and threaten to throw away the key unless you pay the hackers off.

These programs are called ransomware and they help computer hackers steal millions of dollars worldwide.

Imagine that every file on your computer was locked by hackers. Your only two options are to pay the hackers an untraceable ransom or to lose every file on your computer and start over again.

Now before you take an "I don't negotiate with terrorists" stance, let's think for a moment: All of your family photos, videos and contact information is probably stored on your computer.

Today's tip asks one question. If a hacker is holding your computer hostage, should you pay a ransom to get it back?

If you think that hackers would never be sneaky enough to get a virus onto your computer, think again. The best way to infect a computer with ransomware is to trick someone into installing it straight onto their PC.

You'd be surprised at who has been tricked into infecting themselves with ransomware.

A Police Department in Swansea, Massachusetts, for example, had its computer systems infected with the powerful CryptoLocker malware and had to pay hackers to get its files back. The police department infected its computer systems by downloading and running malware embedded in an email attachment. The Swansea Police Department had to choose between paying hackers or losing all of its department's records.

The department chose to pay off the hackers.

People who decide to pay off a hacker's ransom face a whole new wave of issues. Ransomware will usually "charge" you at least several hundred dollars to unlock your files.

Just yesterday, the all-new OphionLocker ransomware hit the scene. If your computer was infected by OphionLocker, you'd be directed to buy back your computer with a bitcoin. A bitcoin is digital, untraceable currency currently valued at around $350.

Hackers like bitcoins because they can be bought and sold without being tracked by any law enforcement agencies. So to recover from an OphionLocker infection, you'd have to exchange your money into a format easier for hackers to hide and then hope that they actually unlock back your files.

So let's say you manage to convert your cash into a bitcoin, pay off the hacker and they give you the keys to unlock your computer. Chances are good that your name or contact information will go on a list.

That list includes every other person who fell victim to a hacker's scam. Then don't be at all surprised if they target you again when they build the next version of OphionLocker.

Believe it or not, one simple step could protect you even if hackers have breached your computer's gates. The product is called Carbonite and I'm proud to have them as a sponsor of the Kim Komando Show.

Carbonite backs up your computer's hard drive through an entirely secure online connection.
I have Carbonite installed on my work, home and family's computers. "Now Kim," I'm sure some of you are saying, "are you saying that you — America's Digital Goddess — would let ransomware past your anti-virus programs?"

Here's my answer: I'm not sure. If a hacker was sneaky enough to get malware on my family's computers, though, there's no way in heck that I'd pay them to give me my stuff back.

The moocher's guide to cutting the cable cord by Jared Newman

So you finally told your cable company to take a running leap at a rolling donut. Congratulations,
you're free! And you have a little more disposable income to boot. Oh, but now you're feeling the pain of withdrawal; you're tired of the office loudmouth spoiling entire seasons of your favorite shows.

Here's some good news. If you're willing to bend the rules, you might be able to rely on the generosity of loved ones willing to their share passwords.

While services like Netflix and HBO Go don't exactly encourage password sharing, they haven't aggressively attacked the practice either. For that reason, the password-sharing phenomenon is well-documented, even if it is legally and perhaps morally questionable.

For those who have no qualms with sharing online service accounts, it can still be hard to figure out exactly what the risks and limitations are, probably because TV providers don't always offer clear guidance. Here's what I've been able to gather:

Standalone streaming services

Netflix logo
Netflix allows up to two concurrent streams on its typical $9 per month plan. An $8 per month plan limits you to a single stream in standard definition, while a $12 per month plan allows four streams in Ultra HD (but Mac and PC users should take note of this story). Netflix's terms of use say that the “Account Owner should not reveal the password to anyone [emphasis mine, since "should" could be interpreted as a suggestion, not a rule].”

Hulu Plus allows only one stream at a time. But at least the company's terms of service are up-front about it: "…your Hulu Plus account is limited to only one simultaneous stream at a time."

Amazon Prime Instant Video permits two concurrent streams of different videos, but only one stream at a time for the same video, per the company's usage rules. Also, keep in mind that the same Prime login is good for purchases from Amazon's online store, so password sharing here requires a lot of trust.
MLBTV logo
MLB.TV cautions that “you may be prevented from logging in to your account” if other people are using it at the same time. But many users report success with splitting a single account. Those reports conflict, however, on what the actual concurrent stream limit is.

NBA League Pass explicitly forbids password sharing in its terms of service, which also state that the NBA “may prohibit more than one Service log-in using your account at any given time.” Users have reported mixed results with password sharing here.

NHL Gamecenter doesn't say on its FAQ page whether there's a limit on concurrent streams. Many users on Reddit and other forums say they get kicked out when trying to use more than one device at a time, but others say they've had no problems..

Services requiring a cable/satellite/telco TV login

Thanks to the cable and satellite industries' TV Everywhere initiative, much of the video that you get with a pay-TV subscription is now available online with a login from your service provider. While mooching a login from friends or family isn't technically allowed, TV networks haven't made much of an effort to stop it.
HBO Go logo
HBO Go allows up to three simultaneous streams, according to a January GigaOM report. That same article cites HBO CEO Richard Plepler as saying password sharing is a great form of promotion, even though HBO Go's terms technically forbid the practice.
WatchESPN doesn't discuss device limits on its FAQ page. The closest thing I can find is a Time Warner Cable FAQ that mentions a limit of five mobile devices authorized at once.
Showtime Anytime logo
Showtime Anytime has some hard limits on usage, at least according to this Xbox troubleshooting page. The total number of devices—including set-top boxes, consoles and Web logins—is capped at five, and only three simultaneous streams are allowed among those devices.

Turner channels (TBS, TNT, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and CNN) have no limits on simultaneous users, at least according to Cox.

Viacom channels (CMT, LOGO, MTV, VH1, BET and Comedy Central) also enforce no concurrent stream limits, according to Cox.

DirecTV lets subscribers stream a long list of channels live over the Internet, but only two concurrent streams are allowed.

Now if you haven't cut the cord because you're still waiting for your service provider to offer an a la carte menu that will let you pick and choose which channels you're willing to pay for, you shouldn't hold your breath. That's not likely to happen any time soon. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 battery myths debunked by Kim Komando

Without compact, rechargeable batteries, our mobile gadgets simply wouldn't exist. But, if we're
honest, our batteries really aren't that good. Most smartphones, tablet and laptops can barely last through a whole day of use - if that. That's why battery companies are working like crazy to come up with technology and materials that improve battery life or allow for faster charging.

In the meantime, there's plenty of advice floating around on how to keep your battery healthy and long lasting - including some from me. Unfortunately, it also means there are plenty of battery myths that people believe, either through misunderstandings or just old information. I'm going to bust five of those battery myths right now.

1. You shouldn't charge your gadget overnight

Many people are afraid to charge their phone or tablet overnight because they think it might overcharge and catch on fire. I also field this question from people worried about leaving laptops plugged in 24/7.

Fortunately, there isn't anything to worry about. Modern electronics know when to stop charging so they don't overcharge. Click here to find out what does cause a battery to catch fire or explode.

Now, it is true that your battery is going to have a longer life if you mostly keep it between 40% and 80% rather than at 100%, but no matter what it should still last for three or more years.

2. Don't use your gadget while it's charging

There are two reasons you'll hear this advice. The first is that your gadget charges faster if you aren't using it, and that one is true. In fact, if you're in a hurry, turn off your gadget entirely to charge it.
The second reason not to use your gadget while it's charging is that your gadget can explode or shock you. That one is NOT true.

Yes, there have been a few news reports of people being shocked by plugged in phones, or plugged in phones that burst into flames. In every case they were using knock-off chargers.

Using your gadget's official charger, or a reliable third-party charger, is perfectly safe. Just make sure your gadget gets some air so it doesn't overheat.

3. Don't use third-party chargers

In the last point, I made a distinction between knock-off chargers and third-party chargers. A third-party charger is an Apple- or Android-compatible charger from a reputable, company like Belkin or Monoprice.

Knock-off chargers usually doesn't have a brand name, or they say they're from Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc. but have a ridiculously low price. Knock-offs are responsible for the horror stories you hear about gadgets bursting into flames or electrocuting people, so avoid them at all costs.

If you want to be safest, buy your charger directly from the gadget manufacturer. You should also know the signs of a shady gadget charger.

Third-party chargers are OK to buy. Just know that in general they won't charge your gadget as quickly or reliably as a gadget's official charger.

4. It won't hurt to leave your gadget in the car or outdoors

That depends on where you live. Extreme heat and cold can hurt both your battery life and battery health.

For example, in Phoenix during the summer car interiors can hit up to 160 degrees. I've seen cellphone batteries swell and lose several hours of talk time after just a day in that kind of heat. Even direct sunlight on a warm day can decrease your battery life.

In areas where it hits temperatures below freezing, your battery won't fare much better, and your gadget might actually die if you're trying to use it outdoors. Of course, cold has other ways to kill electronics as well. Learn how to keep cold from killing your gadgets.

When in doubt, look at the label on the battery or your gadget's user manual. It will have an operating-temperature range for your gadget's battery and you want to keep it in that range as much as possible.

5. You have to let your battery get to zero before charging

This one's a little confusing. You'll hear people say that you shouldn't discharge a gadget's battery, but then they'll say that you need to to discharge it to calibrate it. So, which one is it?
There are actually two parts to this.

Nickel-Cadmium batteries, the old standard for rechargeable batteries, have something called a "memory effect." If you keep recharging them at a point before they're completely dead, then that point becomes the new "empty." In other words, you train the battery to have less of a charge than it can hold.

Lithium-ion batteries - the kind in just about every modern gadget - don't have that problem. In fact, as I said earlier, Li-ion batteries last longest when you keep them between 40% and 80% charged. Also, if you let Li-ion batteries discharge completely for too long they can be permanently damaged or become dangerous - more on that here.

That being said, Li-ion batteries do have a built-in sensor that tells your gadget how much electricity is left in the battery. Over time that stops matching up with the battery's actual charge.
To reset it, you have to charge the Li-ion battery to full, let it run down to the point where your gadget gives you a serious battery warning and then charge it to full again. However, this only needs to be done every three months or so.

For some gadgets, you might not need to do it at all. Apple used to recommend this in the past, but now says it isn't needed. Check your gadget's manual to see if it has any specific directions.

Last chance: Watch these Netflix movies while they last, plus what's new in January BY Kim Komando

It's that time again! Licenses for individual movies and TV shows are set to expire on Netflix at the
end of the month, so that means it's time to watch certain titles before they disappear forever. But don't worry, the streaming video service also regularly adds news films as well.

So what's going to be new in January? And what should you watch before it goes away at midnight on December 31st? We've got lots to look forward to.

The entire "Friends" series, "Cast Away" and "Mean Girls" are just a few.

But first, don't miss these favorite titles before they disappear. "Rocky," and "Rudy" will retire. "Braveheart," "Love Actually," "The Mighty Ducks," "Spaceballs" and "The Breakfast Club" are also set to drop out of Netflix's streaming list.

Get your sweatpants on, fire up the popcorn, grab a blanket and enjoy! It's binge-watching time! 
Still not caught up with last month's new additions? Click here to see what was added in December.

What's going - Last chance to watch!

  • Bad Boys
  • Braveheart
  • Good Burger
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  • Happy Gilmore
  • Hitch
  • Hotel Rwanda
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • Kiss the Girls
  • Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • Love Actually
  • Manhattan
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • My Girl
  • My Girl 2
  • Rocky
  • Rocky II
  • Rocky III
  • Rocky IV
  • Rocky V
  • Red Dawn
  • Roman Holiday
  • Saved
  • Scary Movie 2
  • Spaceballs
  • Stargate
  • Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless
  • Titanic
  • The Bad News Bears Go to Japan!
  • The Brady Bunch Movie
  • The Breakfast Club
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • The Company Men
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Longest Yard
  • The Mighty Ducks
  • The Original Kings of Comedy
  • The Parent Trap
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • The Wedding Planner
  • Tombstone
  • Transformers: Generation 1, Seasons 1-­4
  • Turner and Hooch
  • You've Got Mail

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How to remove yourself from online directories by Kim Komando

Trolls don't hide under bridges anymore. For most modern day trolls, hiding behind an anonymous
name on the Internet serves them just fine. From there they can harass whoever they want with little fear of being caught.
If you've been following any of the major controversies surrounding Internet trolling, then you'd know that an Internet troll's strongest weapon is "doxxing." "Dox" is techie slang for someone's personal information.

Trolling organizations like Anonymous and 4Chan will choose a target, collect their information, such as name, phone number, address, online accounts, etc., and then "drop dox," or release their information online. Hundreds or thousands of Internet trolls then appear and start harassing that person.

The scary thing is it's possible to get anyone's information, especially if a troll is willing to spend a few dollars. Almost everyone's information - including yours - is publicly available through a variety of "tracking" sites.

Even if you manage to keep your real name or personal information off of the Internet, someone in your household might slip up and put their info online. Or your name and number might end up in an online phone book without your knowledge, which is all trolls need to get started. "Doxxing" a target almost always means that trolls will start crank calling your home.

Once these cyber hooligans figure out information like your home phone number, your only option is to change your number. There are preventative measure you can take, however.

Bonus tip: Want to make sure that someone in your life is trustworthy? You might want to do a background check yourself. Click here to find out how to do it.

Many of these pay-to-stalk sites stay legal by giving you the "option" to opt out. To get your name off of their lists, you'll have to find a well-hidden page that lets you tell them that you want your name gone.

Here are some of the most popular people-finding sites and tips on how to get off their lists.


Price: $22.86 monthly subscription
Opt-out form:

BeenVerified is a great place to get started if you want to find out just how much information these people finding sites can find. If a stalker was to search for your name, you might be surprised with just how much information that they'd find.

Go ahead and jump over to the BeenVerified website and run a search on yourself.
You'll see the silly, fake popup screens that are really just telling you what the BeenVerified product does. It took me about five minutes to find my listing, and I had to read screens like this one.
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 4.19.15 PM
All of these progress bars are really just trying to puff up the product. It's still extremely creepy, though.

BeenVerified's opt-out form isn't too tough to find. Click here to jump over to the opt-out page, then search for your profile.

Select it and provide your email address for removal.


Price: Free
Free opt-out

Pipl is a jump-off point for many new-jacks to cyber stalking. It lets people search records listed in many people-finding sites. While you can remove a listing on Pipl's directory that's associated with your name, you can't remove search results from other sites.

Opting out of the sites that list your name, however, might take you off of Pipl's search results when it builds its next search list.


Price: $19.95 monthly
Free opt-out

PeopleSmart is a higher-end people finding service. While all people-finding search engines are usually designed for businesses first, people second, PeopleSmart is priced toward professionals.

Similarly, the company makes you jump through more hoops than most others if you want to opt out.
You'll have to create an account with PeopleSmart before opting out. Once the account is created, simply follow the steps outlined over at PeopleSmart's opt-out page.


Price: $29.95 for a single report
Free opt-out

If someone wants to find a "full" report for one person in particular, then CheckPeople is a good option. The site offers subscription options similar to many other sites.

The site has a free-to-preview search engine. You can use it to find out if you're on its records. Click here and fill out the accompanying form to keep your name off of CheckPeople's list.


Price: $4.95 for a six-month membership plan
Free opt-out page:

One of the most popular people finding sites for Internet trolls and stalkers is Spokeo. The site uses publicly available information through the White Pages, Public Records and social media to build "profiles" about its users.

A "preview" of these profiles is freely available. Try searching your name to see if you're listed.
Did you find your name? Well you're in luck, because that means all you have to do to get your name off the list is to visit Spokeo's opt-out page.

Copy the URL of your profile, then enter your email address. Keep in mind that Spokeo might have multiple profiles for you, so be sure to perform a thorough search.


Price: $7.95 for "seven-day full access"
Free opt-out

One of the biggest names in people-hunting, Intelius is the one on this list to watch out for. If you check out Intelius's homepage, you'd find that the company offers identity protection as well as its public records search services.

Creepy, right? Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Getting your name off of Intelius's radar is tougher than other sites. You'll need to visit this page, provide identification, an email address and then wait for the company to get back to you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Today only: Every book on Amazon is 25% off by Kim Komando

Amazon's most recent deals haven't been too kind to the folks out there who just can't handle e-books. Until today, most of the sales involved Amazon's Kindle e-reader or digital copies of novels.
That ends today.

You can get 25% off any one book by entering the promo code BOOKDEAL25 at checkout.
And when I say any book, I really mean any book. Watch out, because you're only allowed to get print copies of books. No digital editions. Also, this deal only works for one book. Choose wisely.
While you're at it, you might also want to check out Amazon's 12 days of deals. The site highlights different types of products every day. Today's, for example, is for people with active lifestyles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fire risk forces recall of 500,000 laptop power cables by Kim Komando

If you or someone you know has a Lenovo laptop, you need to pay attention! Lenovo is issuing a
recall on 500,000 laptop power cords due to fire and burn hazards.

Issues with these cords include overheating, sparking, burning and melting. Even though no injuries have been reported yet, it's crucial that you double-check your power cords to make sure that you or a loved one don't have one of these faulty cords.
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If you do have one of these cords, contact Lenovo at (800) 426-7378 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday; or online at and click on Support at the top of the page, then select News and Alerts, then click on Recalls for more information.

From the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC):

"This recall involves Lenovo's LS-15 AC power cord manufactured from February 2011 to December 2011. The power cords were distributed with IdeaPad brand B-, G-, S-, U-, V- and Z-series laptop computers and Lenovo brand B-, G- and V-series laptop computers. The recalled power cords are black in color and have the "LS-15" molded mark on the AC adapter end. The manufacture date code in the format REV: 00 YYMM is on a label attached to the cord."

Here is what the faulty cords look like:

Be sure to read the full report at the USCPSC here.

Apple drops iOS 8.1.2 to bring back vanished ringtones by Leah Yamshon

Check your settings: Apple just released a software update for iOS 8 on Tuesday. iOS 8.1.2 includes which has been a known problem since iOS 8.0.2. 
general bug fixes and, most importantly, fixes a problem that caused ringtones purchased via iTunes to disappear from your device—

While the update itself won’t bring your ringtones back from the dead, Apple has another way to restore missing purchases: After you install the update, follow Apple’s ringtone restore link ( on your device, which will redirect you to iTunes. Follow the on-screen prompts from there.

To install the update, go to General > Settings > Software Update if you’d like to install the update over the air, or connect your device to your Mac to update via iTunes. For more security info and software updates, check out Apple’s security updates page.

PC vs. Mac: Which should you buy? by Kim Komando

The tech world is known for its heated debates and few have been as fierce or long-lasting as PCs vs. Even with many users abandoning computers for tablets and joining the Android vs. iOS debate, plenty of hardcore Mac and PC users still hotly defend their chosen platform while attacking the other.

PC fans claim Macs are too expensive and won't run a lot of important programs, and that Mac users have been brainwashed by Apple. Mac fans like to bring up Windows' history of security problems and crashes, and claim that PC users aren't very discerning.

Some of these criticisms have some truth to them and some are stereotypes that won't go away. Still, none of that helps the average computer shopper decide what to buy.
That's why I'm going to take a fresh look at the PC vs. Mac debate based on where things stand right now. That will help you decide which one you should buy.


Since 2005, when Apple moved from IBM's PowerPC processors to Intel processors, Mac and PC hardware has been largely the same inside. There are still some differences - for example, Macs offer Thunderbolt and USB connections where most PCs stick with just USB - but the basic technology is the same. In fact, Macs can run Windows no problem, and PCs can run OS X with some semi-illegal hardware tweaking.

At the extreme high-end, Macs do have some fancy extras like 5K displays and 512GB solid-state drives that pre-made PCs don't have yet. However, those models out of the price range of most shoppers.

One of the remaining differences is customization. Apple makes a handful of computers and offers a very limited number of options for processors, RAM, storage and graphics cards. The upside is that the parts are chosen to work well together while being as stable as possible. However, it also means that upgrading computer parts yourself isn't recommended.

On the PC side, you have millions of hardware configurations and multiple manufacturers to choose from. And if you want to build your own custom computer or upgrade the one you have, it's no problem. Of course, you have fewer guarantees that the hardware is going to be as stable. PCs also work with a wider variety of third-party accessories - printers, scanners, etc.

The other big hardware difference is design. With its sleek, clean styling and aluminum chassis, Macs have long had the edge in the style department. However, PC makers are working harder to match it.
Dell's high-end XPS line of laptops uses aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium to get a look that rivals its MacBook competitor. Lenovo's U series laptops, Acer's Aspire S7, Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Plus and Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon are just a few more of the PC laptops geared toward form as well as function.


With the hardware being very similar, the biggest difference between Mac and PC is the software. Let's start with the operating system.

PCs typically run Microsoft Windows and Macs run OS X. They're both solid operating systems that work well if you're used to them.

If you're switching between them, there is a learning curve. In OS X for example, you have to learn that closing a program window doesn't actually close the program like it does in Windows. For Windows, the taskbar isn't as intuitive as OS X's Dock for launching programs.

As time goes on, however, both OSes are becoming more and more alike. The next version of Windows is adding virtual desktops and an OS X-like program switcher. OS X has added a button to maximize program windows and better supports right-click menus. Both are moving toward running "apps" instead of programs.

When it comes to working with other gadgets, OS X does have the edge with Continuity. Continuity makes it simple to seamlessly move work and conversations between OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 gadgets like the iPhone or iPad. Very little setup is required.

On a PC, you have to use third-party programs like Picasa or LightWorks and do quite a bit of fiddling to get the same thing, but unlike OS X you can do it with Android and Windows Phone. With Windows 10, there might be a similar built-in system for Windows 10 computers and Windows Phone gadgets.

At the moment, OS X has the edge over Windows on upgrading to new versions. Not only are upgrades free, you can download them right from the Mac app store with little hassle. However, Windows 10 is bringing easier updating and rumors have it that Windows 10 could be free for Windows 8.1 users.

Aside from the operating system, there are some other software differences. Macs, for example, can't run nearly as many programs as Windows.

Mac does have most of the major ones - Photoshop, Firefox, Chrome, etc. - but you might have a favorite Windows program that doesn't work, or doesn't work as well, like Microsoft Office or Quicken. Many popular video games don't have Mac versions either.

On the other hand, Macs have more software installed by default, such as the excellent iPhoto and iMovie. With Windows, you have to go hunt down a third-party programs to do the same thing.


For a long time, Macs did enjoy a reputation for not having security problems. Part of that is how the OS is designed and part of it is that so few Macs were in use hackers didn't bother attacking them.
Now that Macs are gaining in popularity, hackers are taking notice and have discovered several worrying security flaws over the last two years. OSX.XSLCmd, rootpipe and iWorm are just three recent ones.

True, Macs aren't approaching PC levels of danger and Apple fixes problems fairly fast, but you can't just assume that you're 100% safe. You still need security software. And don't forget that many threats, like phishing emails taking you to a fake banking websites, work regardless of PC or Mac.
With a PC, you do have to take more care. Most viruses are written to attack it, so running without security software is a no-no. Still, with security software installed, common sense and keeping Windows updated, you can stay just as safe as your Mac friends.


As a rule, Macs are generally more stable than PCs. Apple tightly controls its hardware and makes sure it works with OS X and the built-in software before it goes on sale.
That isn't to say PCs are always unstable. However, there are way more hardware configurations Windows has to support, plus dozens of manufacturers, some of whom don't always use quality hardware. Manufacturers also like to pre-install bloatware on new machines, which tend to slow things down.
Still, over the years I've run into very stable PCs and very unstable Macs. It depends on the software, settings and how they're being used.


It is true that if you're looking for a low-cost computer, Macs are more expensive than PCs. The least expensive Mac, the Mac mini, starts at $500, while the least expensive laptop, the MacBook Air, starts at $900. On the PC side, you can get a desktop or laptop for as low as $350.

That being said, when you compare Mac and PC computers with similar hardware, they cost about the same. For example, a Dell XPS 13 ultrabook with only slightly better specs to the 13-inch MacBook Air costs $1,199 to the MacBook's $1,099.

Most of the laptops I listed earlier that match the MacBook's design and specs - Acer's Aspire S7, Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Plus and Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon - are also priced in that $1,000 to $1,100 range.

So if you're after something very cheap, a PC is your best bet. If you're planning to spend north of $900, then Macs are competitive with PCs.

What should you buy?

What you should buy really depends on what you need. If you want a stable, secure computer with good pre-installed software and don't mind spending the money, then get a Mac.

If you want something inexpensive, customizable, able to handle a wide range of games and other software, along with third-party hardware, then a PC is your best bet.

If you're on the fence as either a long-time PC or Mac user, head to the store and give the other platform a test drive. You might find something about it you like better, or you might find out it's just too different.

For situations where you are changing over, also be sure to check your software to see if there's a version for the other platform and how well it works. You don't want to make the switch only to find your accounting files or other important documents won't open.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Speeding up Wi-Fi by Marc Saltzman

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Protect yourself against cyberattack risks by David Horowitz

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Do you need to break the bank to get a good phone? by Anick Jesdanun

NEW YORK (AP) — It might seem as though everyone has an iPhone or Galaxy smartphone. But
many customers are eschewing the best cameras and screens — and their top-end price tags — and choosing models that can get the job done at less than a third of the cost.

Sales of high-end Samsung and Apple phones remain robust, but demand for budget phones is growing. About a third of the smartphones sold in the U.S. between July and September cost less than $200, up from 18 percent a year ago, according to tech research firm IDC. A top-end phone costs $600 to $700 at full price, before the subsidies some phone companies offer in exchange for committing to two-year service contracts.

No longer are these cheap smartphones mostly no-frills devices with small screens and slow processors, says Ramon T. Llamas, a research manager for phones at IDC. As the costs of parts drop, phone manufacturers are able to outfit less-expensive models with advanced features once limited to high-end devices.

These phones lack the latest innovations, such as fingerprint security sensors and heart-rate monitors. They aren't as fast, and their cameras aren't as sharp. But the technology is more than adequate for those who just want to check email, look up sports scores and play video. Many cheaper phones now even offer the fastest wireless speeds on 4G LTE cellular networks, notes Jeff Bradley, senior vice president for devices at AT&T.

"There's a certain status to carrying an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, as an example, but there are also people who say, 'I want a good, reliable phone, but I'm not willing to spend as much money on that," says David Owens, a senior vice president at wireless carrier Sprint Corp.

Joe Liggio, 16, a high school student in New York, says many of his friends have iPhones or Samsung phones, but he's never felt envy carrying his $180 Moto G from Motorola. He says it does everything he needs well, including texting, taking pictures, playing music and accessing the Internet.
Besides the Moto G, Motorola has a $129 Moto E as an alternative to its $500 Moto X. Microsoft Corp.'s Lumia 635 costs $179 or less, compared with the $550 its flagship Lumia Icon retailed for at launch. The Nubia 5S Mini, ZTE Corp.'s most expensive phone, retails for $280 contract-free. ZTE has a few models for just $100.

The cheaper phone does mean smaller profit. According to IHS iSuppli, ZTE makes about $130 per Nubia device sold, compared with several hundred for Apple and Samsung devices before marketing and administrative costs. But targeting the budget crowd has made ZTE the No. 5 smartphone vendor in the U.S., according to IDC.

Wait, you say, $200 is "cheap?" Many consumers in the United States see a $200 price tag on a typical high-end phone and think that is what the phone costs. But the phone company actually subsidizes about $450 or so of the total cost and recovers that by charging higher service fees for voice, text and data over the life of a two-year contract. Some carriers are now pushing customers to pay a phone's full price in installments, such as AT&T's Next plan, but $27 a month over two years doesn't sound as bad as $650 all at once.

So who are the main buyers of these budget phones? The highest demand has been from those with prepaid wireless plans, which are popular among first-time smartphone buyers as well as customers who have poor credit and have to pay the full price of phones up front. But even that is changing.

Doug Kaufman, Sprint's director of device strategy, says that 90 percent of phone sales with traditional contract plans had been for high-end devices, including year-old Apple and Samsung models. That's dipped to roughly 80 percent over the past half-year. Not everyone wants to pay $27 monthly when a lower-end phone can be had for less than $10 a month. And with the rise of family plans, parents are getting cheaper phones for their kids while choosing the latest and the greatest for themselves, he says.

Michael Weaver, an executive at the mobile-messaging firm Waterfall in New York, bought a Motorola Droid Mini for $50 with a contract, compared with $200 upfront for a high-end phone. Others "feel like they need to buy (something) that can launch the space shuttle, but they don't use half the features," he says.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Some iPhone 6/6 Plus Users Reporting Scratched Screens by Jim Karpen

First there were reports that the new iPhones bent easily, and now there's a report that some users are complaining that their displays are easily scratched. It turned out that bending wasn't as much of a problem as first reported, and I'm hoping the same will be the case regarding the scratching.

AppleInsider has posted an article about extended discussions (nearly 700 posts) on Apple's forums of the scratching issue. People say they are noticing scratching on the display after less than a week of normal use, and that these displays seem more prone to scratching than on other recent iPhone models. AppleInsider suggests the fault could lie with the new design of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which lack a protruding bezel "lip" that might have helped protect earlier models from brushing against surfaces. The curved-edge design leaves the glass more exposed.

An photo posted by AppleInsider shows scratches in the corner of the display of a phone that was carried in a microfiber satchel.

Some users say that they've been able to get a replacement at an Apple Store, though others haven't been so lucky. AppleInsider says Apple hasn't yet responded to the issue. If the company decides that the material or design is flawed, they may make replacement standard.

Apple has advertised the iPhone 6's use of an ion-impregnated material in the glass to make it harder, so it's ironic that that users would be reporting scratching. Adding to the irony is Apple's failed attempt to make enough sapphire crystal for use in the displays. Also, Corning has just announced Gorilla Glass 4. The Motley Fool has suggested that the iPhone 6 models may already be using this new glass from Corning, but given the reports of scratching that seems unlikely.

LinkedIn: Beginner's guide to job searching and professional networking by Kim Komando

Facebook is one of the best ways to connect with your friends online. Finding a job online can be
tough, but you might actually want to consider a website that brings the social media experience to your job hunt.

On LinkedIn, users can post their resumes, interests, skills and connect with personal and professional contacts. The hardest part about job hunting is, well, all of the stuff that happens between the moment when you send over your resume to a business and when you actually get a call back.

The easiest way to get past this tough time, of course, is to actually know someone at the company to which you're applying. While you might not think that you're that connected, you'd be surprised with what sites like LinkedIn can help you find.

In this tip, I'll teach you how to use LinkedIn and give you some need-to-know information about getting the most out of your LinkedIn account.

Who benefits from LinkedIn?

Both job seekers and recruiting companies often find LinkedIn to be a very valuable tool. It's most valuable to people with specialized skill sets, or one set in a specific industry. It's usually harder to find specialized jobs across the Internet, and that makes LinkedIn even more valuable.

Instead of just sending a resume to a company's job listing, LinkedIn helps you to identify both a job and someone who you know that might be related to that job

And that doesn't just make getting hired easier - it changes the game for hiring.

Instead of sitting back and hoping that employees will recommend someone that they know for a job, LinkedIn actively connects job-seekers with the jobs that fit their skill set. Not only that, they can even connect with a company through someone who already works with it.

Does LinkedIn cost money?

LinkedIn has a free option for job seekers, but it's limited in many ways. Free accounts can only see the last five people who viewed his or her profile. Free users are also limited to first-come-first-serve for resume placement. Here's what changes when you throw down some money:

Job Seeker Premium
Price: $29.99/month
  • Become a "featured applicant" when recruiters see the people who applied for a job through LinkedIn.
  • Get more insights about who is viewing your profile and how recently the person viewed your profile.
  • InMail lets you contact anyone on LinkedIn, when free members are only allowed to contact people in their network.
There are more expensive options for people looking to hire and make professional connections for businesses on LinkedIn. If you're just looking to hire someone, however, you can post a 30-day listing on LinkedIn for $200. The prices get lower the more listings that you post.
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How should I make a profile?

Making a LinkedIn profile can usually be a little more complex than the one you'd build for something like Facebook. Your LinkedIn works sort of like an online resume, and the site is very good about walking you through the steps necessary to building a worthwhile LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn's account wizard should help you move through the preliminary steps of setting up your account. It's also valuable to figure out what you do or don't want potential employers to see. The account wizard will walk you through every part of your professional life that you may or may not want to share with potential employers.

Even if you don't end up finding a job through LinkedIn, the website's free account wizard is actually a great way to think back on your credentials. You can enter and sort through information like education, past employment, awards, past projects that you've worked on and a massive list of other cool stuff.

How should I write my 'about me' section?

One of the things that I see a lot on LinkedIn is confusion over how professional to make your profile look. While I've seen some great profiles that are written in the third person, I think that the best LinkedIn profiles acknowledge that they were created by a human being.

When you write your LinkedIn profile, I'd suggest using first person. Don't worry, you're free to post a PDF of your resume and potential employers can just look at that if they want. When someone stumbles across your LinkedIn page, they want to hire someone who looks and sounds human.

What do I do after making my account?

It's important to keep the differences between LinkedIn and Facebook in mind. While you can post statuses, interesting content and other stuff on LinkedIn, it's definitely not the place for pictures of your cat.

That's not to say that you can't socialize on LinkedIn, just be sure to keep it professional and try to spin the content that you post toward whatever career you're trying to find. You could also consider using one of these three under-the-radar job hunting sites to identify a company that you want to work for, then "follow" them for updates on the company's hiring cycles.

Unless you're actively job hunting or recruiting through LinkedIn, there definitely won't be as much stuff to do or read as you'll find on Facebook. What you can do, though, is keep an eye out on how often someone searches and visits your profile.

Like I said, recruiters actively search for new hires on LinkedIn and one of the best things that you can do is find new ways to direct them toward your profile.

You might even want to learn about basic Search Engine Optimization principles.
If you don't know what SEO is all about or want to brush up on your skill set, check out my tip on exactly that. It'll point you in the right direction.

After you've made your LinkedIn page, you'll be able to pick your skills. These skills are a factor in deciding where you're ranked when someone searches for a rocket scientist with management skills. You can even have friends or coworkers endorse you for these skills.

10 essential apps for your tablet or smartphone by Kim Komando

Thousands of people get new smartphones or tablets every day. Some people are upgrading their tech,
and other people are getting replacements for broken or drowned gadgets. So many are learning that they don't need a laptop or desktop computer. A tablet or smartphone fits the bill perfectly.

First, be sure to read my quick start guide to a new tablet and 7 ways you must secure your smartphone right now. These tips will keep your gadget secure and running like new.

To really get the most out of your phone or tablet, you need great apps. The word "Apps" is short for applications. These are software programs that perform various functions. There are apps for your mail, games, business, hobbies, security, banking, social networking and more.

But with millions of other apps to choose from, what should you download next? I've scoured the app stores for 10 great apps you can't do without.

1. Find my iPhone/Android Device Manager

Sometimes your smartphone or tablet can grow legs of its own and wander off. Or, sometimes it has help from some sticky-fingered thief. Whatever the reason, Find My iPhone (Free; iOS) and Android Device Manager (Free; Android) can help you locate your lost gadget, lock it, and if worse comes to worst, you can remotely wipe your mobile gadget.


Get more done with (Free; Android, iOS), an award-winning app that makes it easy to keep track of your to-do list. It's got a sleek design, quick entry options and a helpful feature called "Moment" that lets you see everything that needs to be done in one glance.

3. Waze

Waze (Free; iOS, Android, Windows Phone) is a powerful GPS navigation app owned by Google that can help you avoid the frustration of getting stuck in traffic. The app pulls information from other Waze users to send you up-to-date traffic alerts. You can route around trouble spots instead of getting stuck in them.

4. Weather Channel

Before you head out on your next travel adventure, grab the Weather Channel app (Free; iOS, Android, Windows Phone). You can check the current temperature, the hourly forecast and the next 10 days of weather. You’ll also get a customizable radar map, video clips, severe weather alerts and beach conditions.

5. WhatsApp

WhatsApp (Free; iOS, Android, Windows Phone) is the world's most popular chatting app, recently acquired by Facebook for $16 billion. In addition to texts, it lets you send voice, picture and video messages. You'll even be able to group chat. The app uses your existing phone number and integrates automatically with your contacts list. It also lets you text for free from overseas. Click here for more ways to lower your cellphone bill.

6. PaperKarma

Is your mailbox completely overflowing with junk mail? PaperKarma (Free; iOS, Android, Windows Phone) can take care of that for you. Just snap a photo of the junk mail you don't want and you're done. PaperKarma will contact the mailer to remove you from its distribution list. You don't need to do anything else.

7. Dropbox

Access important files no matter where you are in the world with Dropbox (Free; Android, iOS). This cloud-based storage service lets you store files in the cloud and then access them right from your mobile gadget. It can even sync data between your gadget and home computer.

8. Fotor

For simple photo editing on your gadget, try the Fotor app (Free; iOS, Android, Windows Phone). Change the filter on the photo to achieve the best effects, customize the borders, create collages and more! And when you’ve got the perfect picture, you can share it with others online with the tap of a button. Click here for more great photo apps.

9. Flipboard

Flipboard (Free; Android, iOS) lets you turn your social networks and favorite news sites into a flippable digital magazine. You can read your Facebook and Twitter streams, and publications like The New York Times or your local newspaper, all in one easy-to-access app.

10. Venmo

Venmo (Free; Android, iOS, Windows Phone) is a money-management app that lets you make and share payments for splitting the dinner bill, rent, tickets and just about anything else. It makes it easy to transfer money from or to friends - without the hassle of having to look for the nearest ATM.
Click here to see more great money-management apps for your tablet or phone.

Last chance: Watch these Netflix movies while they last by Kim Komando

Available Dec. 1:

  • A Knight’s Tale
  • Almost Famous
  • American Beauty
  • Bewitched
  • Camp Takota
  • Crossroads
  • Jewtopia
  • Knights of Badassdom
  • Madison
  • Out of the Clear Blue Sky
  • Out of Time
  • The Out-of-Towners
  • Troop Beverly Hills
  • Turbo FAST: New Episodes
Available Dec. 3rd through 6th:
  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: Super Sized Version
  • Ava & Lala
  • Bill Burr: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way
  • Oculus
  • Sharknado 2: The Second One
  • Son of God
Available December 8th-11th:
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Season Three
  • A Haunted House 2
  • Drive Hard
  • I Am Ali
  • The Village
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
Available December 12th-15th:
Broadchurch: Season One
Don’t Blink
Jake Squared
Marco Polo
Nick Offerman: American Ham

Available December 18th-23rd:
All Hail King Julien
Dark Skies
The Honourable Woman: Season One
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
The Trip to Italy

Available December 24th-30th:
Behaving Badly
Child of God
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season Three
Good People
I, Frankenstein
Jessie: Season Three
Labor Day
Last Weekend
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
Maron: Season 2

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Two minutes to make you happier at work, in life ... and over the holidays by Laszlo BockInfluencer SVP, People Operations at Google

It’s Thanksgiving week in the US, so I’m reflecting on what I’m most thankful for: my family, my friends, my XBox One (a recent birthday present), the rain we’re getting in the Bay Area (finally!), and a job I love. Many of you are doing the same. The year-end is a great time for looking back, looking forward, and thanking the people around you for all they’ve done.

But it turns out that an “attitude of gratitude” is way more powerful than just saying “thanks.” Expressing gratitude makes you happier, and may even make you live longer.

Happiness research shows that when stuff happens it makes us either sadder or happier (thanks, Science!). But the effect attenuates over time. Most of us gradually revert to a baseline level of happiness or sadness. Remember the boy or girl who broke up with us in high school, and we were sure life was over and we’d never love again? Turns out most of us get over that. A person might experience a spike in happiness when they land a new job or get a new car, but as the years pass, their happiness levels out. This is called the “hedonic treadmill.”

In other words, the conventional wisdom is that some people are naturally happy and some naturally grumpy. It’s just who we are. Or is it?

Google’s People Operations Analytics team recently found that being grateful -- and expressing it -- can be the secret weapon to workplace happiness and to warding off the malaise that can come with routine.*

It’s no surprise that Nooglers (new Google employees) start full of optimism and excitement, but on average that ebullience trends ever-so-slightly downward over time. I often jokingly tell them to brace themselves, because they will never be happier here than on their first day. It’s all downhill from there! You’ve probably felt this in your own jobs: day one is awesome. Day one-thousand-and-one not so much.

But some Googlers stay delighted. Our latest research reveals that employees who self-identify as more grateful are largely immune to the sinking effects of tenure on satisfaction. They stay happier, longer.

It appears that feeling gratitude keep Googlers from habituating to the good stuff because they are constantly pausing to simply be grateful.

Happiness expert Shawn Achor, who spoke at our re:Work Conference last month, explained that “you are not just your genes and your environment….Happiness can be a choice. But it’s a choice that we can influence through our organizations. And when we do so, it becomes the greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy.”

Shawn’s prescription? Take two minutes each day to express your gratitude. For example:
  • Write down three new things for which you’re grateful, or
  • Spend two minutes each day praising or thanking a person you know, and
  • Commit to doing it for 21 days.
Shawn continues: “You get these great emails back [and] 21 days later you realize you have incredibly deep social connections … which are predictive of happiness in organizations as well as how long you will live.”

I couldn’t think of a better lesson for Thanksgiving and for the holiday season. Gratitude creates a virtuous cycle: the more you express it, the happier you are. We are not stuck as “sad people” or “happy people.” We have a choice.

Spending two minutes a day being consciously, deliberately, mindfully grateful is perhaps the secret to happiness and a longer life.

And I’m grateful to Shawn and our Analytics team for doing the hard work to discover this!

Delete old Facebook posts so they don't come back to haunt you by Kim Komando

Nothing you put up on Facebook ever goes away on its own. Your profile probably has photos and
status updates in it from years ago that you don't even remember posting.

Unfortunately, these old posts can put you at risk. You can bet that potential employers or landlords might check you out on Facebook before extending an offer. You might have put something online that hurts your reputation or gives hackers a way to breach your privacy. It's even worse if things you think are private really aren't.

In the case of the military, the FBI is sounding the alarm on posting information that could make you a terrorist target. ISIS has put out a call for sympathizers in the U.S. to attack military personnel and their families. You don't want attackers learning anything about you online that they could use to find and hurt you or your loved ones.

No matter the reason, taking some time to look at and clean up your Facebook history is never a bad thing. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to review and clean up old posts.

The Activity Log

The Activity Log shows you everything you've ever done on Facebook. That's handy, but if you've been on Facebook for years be aware that this could take a while.
To get started, log in to Facebook. Then click the down arrow in the upper right corner and select Activity Log.
Facebook Activity Log
The Activity Log might seem a little overwhelming at first with thousands of entries to scroll through, but Facebook has a few tools to make things easier.
Facebook Activity Log Filters
In the left-hand column you'll see a huge list of filters. These show you just the posts in your Timeline about those topics.

For example, if you only want to look at things you've posted in the past, select "Your Posts." You can also just look at "Photos," things you've "Liked" and "Comments" you've made on posts, photos and videos.

Click the "More" link to see more filters like "Videos," "Groups" and "Location History." Location History is especially helpful if in the past you were a little too free with telling people where you were.

One thing you probably didn't know Facebook tracks is your search history. Everything you've searched for on Facebook is visible to anyone who gets access to your account.

To see your search history, click "More" under "Photos, Likes and Comments." Then click "Search" near the bottom of the list.

You can delete individual entries by clicking the "circle with a slash" icon and selecting Delete. You can also click "Clear Searches" at the top to wipe everything at once.

Of course, there's no way to turn off search history recording. So, you'll need to keep coming back to delete your history if you don't want it recorded - or just stop searching on Facebook.

At the very bottom, you can also see what apps you've installed and what posts they've made on your Timeline. At the top of the log, you can also changing the settings on who can see the posts the apps make.

Limit Past Posts

I mentioned earlier that you might have posted with the wrong privacy settings in the past. Changing every past post manually from "Everyone" to "Friends" could take days.

Fortunately, Facebook has a quicker option. At the top of the page, click the upside-down triangle and select Settings.
Facebook profile menu
Then click the Privacy link in the left-hand column. Under "Who can see my stuff?" click the "Limit Past Posts" link.
Facebook Privacy Settings
Then click the "Limit Old Posts" button to change the privacy setting of every post in your profile to "Friends."

Note that if you have posts that you want everyone to see, this will change those as well, so you'll need to go change those posts back to "Everyone" manually.

Download your history

Your entire Facebook history is available in your account, but what if you want it offline? Yep, Facebook lets you download the whole thing.

In fact, it doesn't just include everything in your profile and activity log. The downloaded data includes ads you've clicked and their topics, the IP addresses of the gadgets you use to access Facebook, your entire Chat history, every email address you've every used on Facebook and more.
To download this information, open Facebook, click the upside-down triangle in the upper right corner and select Settings. On the first page, click the "Download a copy" link.
Facebook General settings
Then click the "Start My Archive" button.
Facebook Start My Archive
You'll need to re-enter your password and then click another Start My Archive button. When your information is ready for download, Facebook will send you an email with a link.

When you click the link you'll got to a page with a "Download Archive" button. Click it and then enter your password again. Then you can finally download the Zip file.

Open the Zip file by double-clicking on it, or if that doesn't work use a program like 7-Zip. Drag the file contents to your desktop or another folder, and then double-click the "index.htm" file.

Your information will appear in your browser so you can look through it. Just be aware that most of the extra information, like ad clicks and email addresses, can't be removed from Facebook if you don't want it in Facebook's records.

If you want it gone, you'll have to delete your account entirely. You can do that at this page:

Just think hard before you click "Delete Account" because it will be gone forever.