Google+ February 2015 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

5 ways to save time and accomplish more by Kim Komando

Some of my tactics might work for you, others might not be your style. The trick to managing the balancing act of a small business is to throw yourself behind any time-saving tricks that fit the bill.

1. Take notes (by any means necessary!)

How many stray thoughts run through your mind every day? How many of them do you wish you'd held on to?

Be they business ideas or the dreaded "I-should-call-him-backs," these thoughts are important. That's why I always keep my information safely stored on one of my gadgets. While most people will tell you to keep a notebook handy, I wouldn't be America's digital goddess if I didn't have some note-taking apps to present to you.

The best way to keep websites, images and other cool stuff that you find on the Web is Evernote. The app helps you to easily save a cool website to all of your gadgets. Perfect for my daily Happening Now posts.

Post-it notes, as many small business owners will attest, are a real lifesaver. That's why my other note-taking suggestion helps you take your post-it notes digital.

Post-it Plus lets you take pictures of any Post-it note and instantly digitize it. That way, you'll be able to carry all of the reminders and ideas that you've jotted down on a Post-it note with you on the go. But it doesn't just save individual Post-it notes; you can also arrange them in infinite combinations to help organize your thoughts.

2. Rethink your priorities

Now, taking notes is just one piece of my time-management puzzle. There are only so many hours in a day, and figuring out where to spend them is where things really get tough. Whenever you get an email, what's your first reaction? Do you open it up and respond to it immediately?

Are there certain email messages that you put off for later? Priorities start with figuring out which tasks that you have to handle now and which ones can safely be put off until your critical priorities are solved. While many email providers offer features that let you tag certain email addresses and subject lines as "priority," it's a little tougher in practice.

That's why small business owners everywhere are excited for Google's Mailbox app. It works seamlessly with your Gmail account and automatically tags certain emails conversations based on how fast you usually react to them.

Now, I'm using Email as my jumping-off point. But obviously ranking priorities extends far beyond whether or not you wait to open up Aunt Gertie's new dog pictures until now or later.

While everyone's priorities differ, I have an easy way to help you visualize how you organize them.

3. Graph out your 'urgents' and your 'importants'

A priority matrix is a decision-making tool for prioritizing your day. You can organize your matrix however you want, but mine is based around four categories: Important, not important, urgent and not urgent.

Here's an example of how a priority matrix might look. Keep in mind that normally, you'd be filling out this matrix with your current priorities.
Organizing your business and personal priorities around this four-square matrix does something very important. It helps you to decide whether or not to panic.

Listing all of your priorities on a chart like this gives you a visual depiction of how busy you should be. It also makes that aforementioned business balancing act just a little easier to juggle.

A fun way to build a list like this would be to create a Prezi. It's a cool presentation tool with slick animations that everyone in the tech world's going wild for.

4. Solve your urgents, delegate your importants

Remember when I said that the most valuable part of the presentation matrix was its ability to teach you when to panic? Well, it's also the most important tool for finding the right moment to delegate. Here's an example: You realize that you have an important meeting today, but you have to finish up a presentation for another client. If you've created a priority matrix and kept it up to date, then you'll know exactly how important both issues are.

If you realize that both events classify as both urgent and important, then it's time to delegate some of the work somewhere else. Reputation is everything in business. Knowing your obligations and organizing them appropriately can be a powerful tool in protecting your biz's rep.

5. Reflect and review

For a small business owner, the weekend is the only chance to really be "off the clock." Assuming, of course, that you're not working through it.

Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you that everyone needs to work through the weekend to stay productive. I have one important caveat for how to organize your weekend.

Whenever you've got an hour to spare, it's important to take a look back at all of the notes and events of your week. The real secret to making your notes and priority matrices valuable is to take a moment to reflect on how your week went.

The best way to manage your future priorities and obligations more effectively is to understand what went right and wrong during the past week. All of the suggestions that I've made in this tip have had one very important feature: They stick around.

Putting some time aside to remember all of the ups and downs that you've forgotten over the past week can help you save time in the future.

Protect it all

There's one major hit to your productivity that's easy to predict, but almost no one does it. It's the hard drive in your computer. It doesn't matter how organized you are, a dead hard drive brings any chances of getting something done to a screeching halt.

For the ones who do think ahead and back up their gadgets — I salute you. But if you're trying to back up your gadgets yourself without my sponsor Carbonite's automated drive backup, then you're wasting precious time that could be better spent.

Backing up your computers with Carbonite is a one-step, turnkey solution that protects you and your business from losing everything when you need it most. Plus, besides saving so much time day in and day out automatically backing up all your gear, if the worst does happen getting back up to speed is a snap.

I know some folks who think they are perfectly protected doing their own backups. But backing up to external hard drives leaves your business wide open to burglary, fire or flood. What good is your backup if it's gone or destroyed?

I've used Carbonite to protect my valuable information and I personally recommend it to family and friends. Now Carbonite is helping me to protect your business, too. My listeners get an exclusive free two months added to any paid order. Click here to find out the best way to protect your business.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day eNewsletter SmartPhone Issue

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The best new iOS feature no one uses (yet!) by Kim Komando

OK, please let me see a show of hands, how many of you have ever emailed a file - like a photo or a document - to your Mac from your iPhone or iPad, even as you sit right in front of your Mac? Yes, I've done it too, just like nearly every other Apple user on the planet. That's probably because using email to move files around works pretty well as long as your file is small enough to be attached to an email. But now there's a better way to move files among your gadgets or even among your friends.

Though file moving is a feature that goes back to iOS 7, previous versions did not include your desktop Mac computers. Seems many users simply used third-party apps like DropBox to move files back and forth between gadgets. That's all changed now. When Apple released iOS 8 along with the newest desktop OSX, Yosemite, it also dramatically improved - and simplified - the ability to easily move files around.

Here's the really cool part of this new function: Your various Apple gadgets don't even have to be on the same network or signed into the same iCloud account to move files back and forth. That means you can also move files to a friend or co-worker. However, there is one small caveat to this file moving system: It is designed to work between users who are near each other. Apple says gadgets should be within about 30 feet of each other. So this works well in coffee shops, conference tables, between cubicles or across the den.

Apple AirDrop

Apple AirDrop lets you seamlessly move files back and forth between nearby desktop Macs and iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone or iTouch. To use AirDrop from a Mac, it is available from the Finder, the Share menu, and in Open and Save windows. When you choose AirDrop in Yosemite, your Mac looks for nearby devices that can also use AirDrop. This includes Mac computers with OS X Lion or later installed, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7 or later.

To see if your Mac works with AirDrop, make sure you’re in the Finder by clicking the desktop (the background area of your screen), or by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock.

Then, check to see if AirDrop is listed as an option in the Go menu. If you don't see AirDrop listed, your Mac doesn't support this feature.
AirDrop Go Menu
In order to transfer files between a Mac and an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
  • Your iOS gadget needs to include a Lightning connector with iOS 7 or later installed
  • Your Mac needs to be a 2012 or later model with OS X Yosemite installed
  • Your Mac and iOS device both need Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on. You do not have to be connected to a specific Wi-Fi network.
To transfer files between two Mac computers, you need the Mac models listed below with Wi-Fi turned on and OS X Lion or later installed.
  • MacBook Pro (Late 2008 or newer)*
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)*
  • iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)
*The MacBook Pro (17-Inch Late 2008) and the white MacBook (Late 2008) do not support AirDrop.

Steps to use AirDrop between a Mac and a mobile

1. Wi-Fi must be turned enabled on your gear. For iOS: Settings -> Wi-Fi; and Mac: Menu Bar -> Wi-Fi -> Turn Wi-Fi On. The gadgets using AirDrop do not have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

2. Turn on Bluetooth on your mobile (Settings -> Bluetooth) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences -> Bluetooth -> Turn Bluetooth On).

3. Turn on AirDrop on your phone, tablet or touch iPod (Slide up to access Control Center -> AirDrop -> Choose "Contacts Only" or "Everyone") and Mac (Finder -> Menu Bar -> Go -> AirDrop -> Click "Allow me to be discovered by:" -> Choose "Contacts Only" or "Everyone").
AirDrop iOS 8 Screen
4. You may now begin using AirDrop to transfer files between a Mac and an iOS gadget. To test it out, go to the AirDrop menu in the Mac Finder and notice that your iOS device is represented by circle. Drag and drop a file onto the circle, and your iOS device will prompt you to accept the file. If you don't see the receiving device in the AirDrop window, make sure the recipient is set up to get files over AirDrop. If you don't see the receiving device in the AirDrop window, make sure the recipient is set up to get files over AirDrop.
AirDrop Mac desktop
You can also transfer files from the Mac to an iOS device using apps that have Share feature built-in. The Share menu can be accessed in the upper right corner of an app and is represented by a square with an upward facing arrow.

5. Transferring a file from an iOS device to a Mac can be done in any app that supports the Share functionality. Like on the Mac, the Share button brings up a list of options for transfers including AirDrop. For example, sending an image to the Mac from the Photos app can be done by tapping the Share button, tapping AirDrop, and selecting the desired Mac. A prompt to accept the file should then appear on the Mac.
iOS 8 Share screen

Steps to use AirDrop between mobile gadgets

Sending files from your iPad or iPhone is the similar as shown on the previous page.
You’ll need both gadgets no more than 30 feet apart, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. On the iPhone that you want to send from, find a file such as a photo and press the share button.

Again, you'll see sharing options including Message and Mail plus any nearby users who have AirDrop enabled, such as user "Richard" shown on the screen shot below. If you see only the AirDrop icon with no users, ask your receiver to enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Tap the AirDrop icon until the receiver's name and is displayed below their circle photo or icon.
AirDrop Send
When you see the contact picture and name of the device you want to send to, tap on the circle. This will start the transfer. If you are sending to yourself on another gadget, it will auto download on that gadget and will display the file. If you are sending to someone else, they need to accept the file. The receiver's mobile screen will display an "accept" as shown below.
AirDrop mobile accept screen
AirDrop has been an Apple feature since iOS 7. But with the updated version in iOS 8 coupled with Mac's desktop OSX Yosemite, Apple seems to have smooth out earlier bugs making AirDrop a smooth, seamless was to move files between gadgets.

Stop Facebook from tracking everywhere you go online by Kim Komando

It's no secret that Facebook is using your information to build its huge financial empire. Partly it does this by sharing your information with other companies - and getting their info on you in return - to serve you targeted ads and other services.

This network of ad-serving companies builds a detailed profile of your likes and dislikes based on how you spend your online time and the sites you visit. So, when you visit a new site and see ads for online shops and products you've looked at recently, that's why. Creepy, right?

Still, there's a reason companies do it. In 2013 this practice helped Internet advertisers rake in a staggering $42.8 billion, and the 2014 numbers will probably approach or pass $50 billion. You're not seeing a penny of it, though, so I bet you're more concerned with how to stop it and keep your privacy.

Curious how much your data is worth to advertisers? Click here to find out.

But how can you stop a network of major companies from sharing your information? Do you have to complain to each and every one? Fortunately, no; there's an easier solution.

Facebook and 176 other major companies are part of the Digital Advertising Alliance. That means they all play by the same rules when it comes to respecting consumer choice.

You can use a tool on the DAA's website to opt out of "online behavioral advertising." It will scan your computer to see what companies are already customizing ads to target you and if you've opted out of any in the past.

It's simple to choose a few companies and sites, like Facebook, where you don't want to see targeted ads. Or you can click the "Choose all companies" button at the bottom to just opt out of targeted ads for every participating member.

Simple! Of course, there are some caveats you need to know first.

Opting out also doesn't mean these sites won't still collect some information about you, but at least they won't share it with other companies. That limits what any one company potentially knows about you.

Advertiser tracking is largely based on cookies - small bits of code that sites store in your browser - which means the opt-out is browser-based. Companies might still be tracking your other browsers, so you'll need to visit this site in every browser that you use - desktop and mobile - and run it.
Facebook is one exception. If you opt out in one browser, it will honor your opt-out whenever you log into Facebook, no matter the browser.

There are still many companies online that don't participate in the Digital Advertising Alliance, so opting out won't change the way they behave. One way to put a stop to them is to disable third-party cookies in your browsers - you'll just need to wait until after you run the DAA's tool or it won't work correctly.

Ready to stop the tracking? Click here to visit the Digital Advertising Alliance's tracking opt-out tool.
Your browser isn't the only way advertiser can track you on your mobile gadget. There are also ads in apps. Click here to find out how to opt out of all targeted ads on Android and Apple.

You shouldn't only be worried about what advertisers and Facebook can see about you. Strangers could find out more about you than you think if you have the wrong Facebook security settings. Click here to learn how to lock down your Facebook profile from beginning to end.

How to uninstall MacKeeper from your Mac by Christopher Breen

Reader Michael Downend is having difficulty ridding his Mac of a utility he no longer desires. He writes:
How do I get rid of MacKeeper?
I won’t go into why you’d want to. Some people have found MacKeeper useful, others not. But many people I’ve encountered are confused about how to delete it.

Versions of MacKeeper made in the last couple of years are actually pretty easy to uninstall, but the process isn’t entirely straightforward. If you click on the MacKeeper menu in the Mac’s menu bar you won’t find a Quit command, which might lead you to believe that it can’t be quit. Force quitting doesn’t seem to work either.

What you have to do is launch the MacKeeper app in the Applications folder and then quit it. (If this is your first time running it, no, you don’t have to activate MacKeeper or sign on for any of its services. Just choose Quit from the MacKeeper application menu.)

When you’ve done that, drag the MacKeeper app to the trash. You’ll be prompted for your administrator’s password. Enter it and the MacKeeper app will move to the trash and a window will pop up and offer to uninstall the rest of its components. Click the Uninstall MacKeeper button (don’t bother selecting an option about why you’re doing so if you don’t care to). This should remove most of the files MacKeeper placed on your hard drive.

mackeeper uninstall
Once you've tossed the MacKeeper app you should be offered the chance to remove its other elements.
But not all of them. Although the window tells you that all MacKeeper-related processes will be deleted, one crumb remains.

A MacKeeper Helper folder isn’t removed. You can find it by visiting this location: youruserfolder/Library/Application Support. (To access this Library folder hold down the Option key and, in the Finder, choose Go > Library.) Inside this folder is a NoticeEngine.plugin file. Go ahead and toss the MacKeeper Helper folder and this file will disappear right along with it. Empty the trash, restart your Mac, and MacKeeper will be gone.

Top tips for working with the Mac's menu bar by Christopher Breen

To start out your new year I thought I'd remind you of (or, possible reveal, if this is new to you) a handful of menu bar tricks that you'll find helpful. Let’s start with rearranging icons.

If you don’t care for the way icons are arranged in the menu bar—you want the clock to appear all the way to the left, for example—just hold down the Command key and drag the item in question to a new position. Be careful to not drag it outside the menu bar, however, as doing so can cause it to evaporate. This trick doesn’t work with the Spotlight or Notification menus.

Speaking of the Notification menu, when you hold down the Option key and click on the menu, you immediately switch on the Do Not Disturb feature. You can toggle it off again by holding down the Option key and clicking on the menu.

The Option key is also helpful when using the Sound menu. When you click on this menu without holding down Option, you find a volume control. But hold down Option and all your audio input and output devices appear. I use this all the time when I want to quickly switch from my desktop speakers—attached, in this case, to an AudioQuest DragonFly USB audio interface—to the headphones jacked into my Focusrite Scarlett audio interface.

You’ll also find the Option key useful with the Wi-Fi menu. Without Option held down you see something like this—a list of local Wi-Fi networks. But if you hold down the Option key and click the menu you learn some important things about your network (some of which I’ve obscured for my protection). You also have easier access to the Wireless Diagnostic app, where you can gather information about how your Wi-Fi network is behaving. The resulting information is dense, but if you’re of a geekish bent you may find it helpful.

And finally, a trick nearly everyone needs to know. To access the hidden Library folder within your user folder, click on the Finder’s Go menu, press the Option key, and select Library. Most people don’t need to mess around in this folder, which is why Apple hid it, but when you need to—to deal with a corrupt preference file, for example—this is a handy tip to know.

9 typing tips every iPhone and iPad user should know by Ben Patterson

Wish it were a little easier to type in ALL CAPS on your iPhone, or ever get stumped while looking for the em dash? What about typing letters with accent marks, or dealing with cumbersome URLs? Or maybe you’re just hankering for an alternative to tapping on a slippery glass screen.

These 9 tips can make typing on your iPhone or iPad a little easier. Even if you've been tap-tap-tapping away on the iOS keyboard for years, it's possible you missed one of these time-saving shortcuts. Or just point your new-to-iOS friends here if they ever complain that the iPhone's keyboard isn't as good as Android's. (As if.)

The .com shortcut

Want to type a URL directly into the address bar in Mobile Safari? Don’t bother with laboriously tapping in “.com” or “.net”.

ios typing tips dotcom
Never type out dot-com or dot-org or dot-whatever ever again.
Instead, just tap and hold the “.” key; when you do, a pop-up balloon will reveal a series of shortcuts, from .com to .us.

Nice accent

Don’t get caught skipping the accent grave in “voilà” while typing that email on your iPhone or iPad.

android typing tips accent
Impress your international friends with your canny use of accents and other marks. 
You can access a generous portion of accent marks—acute, grave, circumflex, and otherwise—by tapping and holding a letter key (like “a”).

Swipe to type

swype ios 2 Swype
iOS 8 finally allows third-party keyboards, like the excellent Swype.
Sick to death of painstakingly tapping out messages on your device’s touchscreen? Try swiping instead of typing.

The concept is simple: Rather than tapping each individual key when typing a word, swipe-to-type keyboards let you slide your fingertip from one key to the next.

As your finger loops around the keys, your phone predicts the work you’re trying to type—er, swipe.
Sound weird? Indeed, swiping to type does take some getting used to, but it’ll become second nature with practice.

The standard iOS keyboard lacked the swipe-to-type capabilities our Android friends have bragged on for years—until iOS 8. That update finally brought third-party keypads—particularly Swype and SwiftKey—to the iPhone and iPad.

Caps locked and loaded

See the Shift key? Just double-tap it. When you do, a little horizontal line will appear near the bottom of the Shift key, indicating that you’re in ALL CAPS mode. Starting with iOS 7, Apple made the Shift key's different looks (for lower-case, upper-case, and all-caps) much more subtle, so much so that an entire year later in iOS 8, I still get it wrong sometimes.

quicktype capslock ios8
If you have QuickType turned on in iOS 8 (Settings > General > Keyboard > Predictive), it's easier to notice when the Shift key is in Caps Lock mode.
If you double-tap your Shift key and nothing happens, head to Settings > General > Keyboard, and make sure "Enable Caps Lock" is switched on.

You're so money

Want to type the currency symbols for the yen (¥), the euro (€), or the pound (£)? Simple.
Just tap and hold the key for the dollar sign. When you do, a pop-up bubble will display a series of additional money-minded options.

Shortcuts for symbols

I’ve rarely met an em dash I haven’t liked—and come to think of it, I’m also a sucker for bulleted lists. How does someone like me survive typing on an iPhone? Easy.

ios android typing tips bullet em dash
Tapping and holding symbol keys will yield buried typing treasure.
Tap and hold the dash key to reveal even more dashing buttons, including the em dash, a bullet key, and the indispensable underscore. (To, uh, underscore how convenient this is: If you don't use this shortcut, the underscore is three more taps away. First tap the number key, and then the symbols key, then you can tap the underscore.)

Bonus tip: Try tapping and holding other symbol keys. For example, you’ll find “curly” quotes by tapping and holding the quote key.

Embrace the emoji

What’s a text message without a smiley? Good question. Luckily, the iOS keyboards come with more emoji than you can shake a stick at.

The world is not running out of emoji anytime soon. 
First you’ll need to enable the emoji keyboard: In Settings > General > Keyboard, tap Keyboard again, then check to see if “Emoji” is in the list of installed keyboards. If it's not, tap “Add New Keyboard” and find Emoji in the list. Now whenever you're using the keyboard, you can tap the key with the globe icon, and feast your eyes on all the gorgeous emoji ready to unleash. Unfortunately, you can't reorder them, but the first tab keeps your most recently used emoji at your fingertips.

Talk instead of type

It’s easy to forget that both your iPhone and iPad will take dictation whenever you’re not in the mood to type. Just tap the little microphone icon on the keyboard, to the left of the space bar.

messages record 2upp
Press and hold the gray microphone button to the right of the message box to record an audio message. The white microphone next to the space bar lets you dictate a message that will be translated to text.
As a bonus, the iOS 8 Messages app has two microphone buttons. The rectangular white microphone button to the left of the space bar takes dictation as usual, translating your words into text. But if you're communicating with another iMessages user, you can tap and hold the gray cicular microphone button to the right to the iMessage text box to record a voice message that's sent as audio. You'll save typing time and your messaging buddy get to hear the joy, sadness, or utter ambivalence in your voice. It's fun.

The number slide

There's really no reason to switch from the keyboard's letters layout to its numbers layout if you only need to type one measly numeral or bit of punctuation. Instead, press the button with the numbers on it, but don't pick your finger up off the screen. Instead, slide it to the key you want to type, and then lift your finger off the screen. The number/punctuation will be typed and the screen will snap right back to the letters view.

Of course, to type a simple period at the end of your sentences, you don't even need that slide trick. In Settings -> General -> Keyboard, there's a switch to enable ". Shortcut." That's the period shortcut—once it's enabled, you can just type two spaces at the end of a sentence to automatically make a period.

First look: Photos for OS X brings easier navigation and more powerful editing by Christopher Breen

Last June, Apple announced that it would stop development of its Aperture and iPhoto apps and offer a single photo app in their place—Photos for OS X. Today, developers are getting their first glimpse of Photos, as it’s bundled with the beta version of OS X 10.10.3.
Providing many of the features found in its mobile sibling, the Yosemite-only Photos for OS X offers an interface less cluttered than iPhoto, improved navigation, simpler yet more powerful editing tools, the ability to sync all your images to iCloud (though it doesn’t require you to), and new options for creating books, cards, slideshows, calendars, and prints. I’ve had the opportunity to take an early look at Photos, and this is what I’ve found.

The look

Photos has inherited some design elements from Apple’s latest operating system as well as from iOS’s Photos app. For example, there’s a measure of transparency near the top of the window, reflecting the images behind it rather than the desktop. Toolbar items bear Yosemite’s thinner design, and, like iTunes 12, you’ll find buttons that provide you with different avenues for viewing your content—Photos, Shared, Albums, and Projects. (An Import button also appears when you’ve connected a compatible camera, mobile device, or media card.) They shake out this way.
moments photos
Photos interface follows Yosemite's path of clean, minimal design,
Photos: As with Photos for iOS, you can see your images and movies organized in Years, Collections, and Moments views. In the highest level Years view you find very tiny images all created within a particular year. Click and hold on a thumbnail and you see a larger thumbnail. Click and drag and you can scrub through these thumbnails to locate the image you’re after.

Click within one of the years and you’re taken down a layer to Collections view, which comprises images captured during a particular time and in a specific place. This is akin to iPhoto’s Events view, where you might find all the images from your camping trip.

Click again and you’re taken to the Moments view—all the images you captured during your afternoon atop Half Dome, for instance. If you have a Mac with a trackpad you can navigate even more easily. To dig down from Year view, just stretch two fingers on the trackpad. Stretch again to move to the Moments view. To move back up the hierarchy, pinch.

If you click the place name that appears near the top-left of the window you’re taken to a map that displays thumbnails along with the number of images associated with that location—all the images you’ve taken in Central Park, for example.

Shared: This serves a purpose similar to iPhoto’s Shared entry. After enabling iCloud Photo Sharing you’ll see the photo streams you’re sharing as well as any streams others have chosen to share with you. Unlike with iPhoto’s shared albums, Photos presents shared images in a much more elegant way—similar to something you might see on a well-designed photo sharing site.

Albums: As its name implies, click Albums and you find any albums you’ve created. But there’s more to it than that. Unlike with iPhoto, Photos offers some preconfigured albums that appear in a row near the top of the window. These are All Photos, Faces, Last Import, Favorites, Panoramas, Videos, Slo-mo, Time-lapse, and Bursts—it’s not difficult to see the strong connection between these libraries and the kind of images you can capture with your iOS device. Just double-click on an album to see its contents.
photos albums
Photos gathers images and movies of particular types at the top of the Albums view.
Projects: Should you have forgotten, projects are what Apple calls slideshows, books, cards, and calendars. When you create such a project you’ll find it here. To work on an existing project, just double-click on it.

Import: Similar to iPhoto, when you connect a camera, iOS device, or media card/reader an Import button will appear. Click it and you can choose to import all new items on the connected device/media or just those images you select. If you have more than one device connected—your iPhone and an SD card, for example—you pick the source you desire from a pop-up menu and then import the images and/or compatible movies it contains.
photos import
You can import media from cameras, connected iOS devices, and media just as you did with iPhoto.
If you prefer navigating your media as you did with iPhoto, that option exists in the form of Photos’ Sidebar (which you invoke by choosing View > Show Sidebar or by pressing Command-Option-S). Do so and you see headings for Photos, Import, Albums (which contains the preconfigured albums I mentioned earlier as well as smart albums), and Projects. The navigation buttons in the toolbar disappear when you expose the sidebar.

Viewing images

To view a photo at a larger size, just double-click on it. When you do this you have the opportunity to mark it as a favorite (by clicking a Favorite button in the toolbar). Photos has dispensed with star ratings, however. Now you simply choose to mark an image as a favorite or not.
info window
You add keywords and descriptions as well as view EXIF and location data in the Info window.
When viewing a single image you can get and edit information about it. Just click the Info button and a window appears where you can add a title, view some EXIF data, see the image’s location if it has been geotagged, add keywords, and add the identity of faces within the image. You can select multiple images, press Command-I to produce the Info window, and add keywords that apply to each selected image.

You can also click a Plus button to add your image to an album, smart album, or project. And by clicking on the Share menu you can send that image elsewhere—to iCloud Photo Sharing, Mail, Messages, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, and other services available from within the Share Menu via Yosemite’s Extensions system preference.

Editing your images

Photos, like the iOS version, presents editing as a collection of tasks. When you view an image and then click Edit in Photos’ top-right corner you’re presented with a list of tools—Enhance, Rotate, Crop, Filters, Adjust, and Retouch. Enhance does what it did before—takes a guess at what might look good and applies those changes. Rotate does exactly that in 90-degree increments. Filters offers up eight tasteful filters: Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, and Instant. And you use Retouch to remove spots and blemishes (including sensor dust) with a resizable tool. Crop and, particularly, Adjust need more explanation.

Crop not only lets you cut away unwanted material by dragging corners and borders, but provides a wheel similar to the one in Photos for iOS that you use to straighten your image to a grid. Or, if you like, you can simply click an Auto button and Photos will calculate the horizon line and straighten and crop the image for you, using the rule-of-thirds to place the important portions of the image within the frame. Within the Crop tool you can also choose an aspect ratio for your crop—custom, 16:9, 8:10, 5:7, and so on. Select a ratio and the image will be cropped accordingly.
photos crop
The Crop control not only lets you crop your images, but also straighten them.

Making adjustments

Photos’ Adjustments tool is one of its most intriguing features and provides some insight into how its iOS cousin handles the job. The idea behind it is that many people don’t want to spend time tweaking their images. They’d prefer to click Enhance and when presented with the results—whether great or garish—accept them as all that can be managed. Intuitive though Exposure, Contrast, Saturation, and Definition sliders may seem to some of us, they’re confounding to many casual photographers. Photos’ designers set out to simplify the process while bringing greater intelligence to the app’s editing tools.

When you click on Adjustments (which Apple terms “Smart Adjustments”) you see three entries—Light, Color, and Black & White—that are controlled using “smart sliders.” To make an adjustment in this view, just click somewhere in the thumbnail image below one of these entries and drag to the left or right. For example, if your image is too dark, click in the Light tool area and then drag right or left to brighten or darken your image.
photos editing
Photos' Adjustments tools are simple yet powerful.
This addresses your need to make a dark image brighter. But it’s doing far more than just adjusting the image’s exposure. As you drag to the right or left, a variety of factors change including exposure, highlights, shadows, brightness, contrast, and black point (and probably several other things lurking under the surface). And not always in a similar direction. Dragging to the right may increase the image’s exposure but decrease its highlights, for instance. Photos is calculating the best look for the overall image rather than just dumbly making it brighter or darker.

You might use these controls this way: A mistake the unwary often make is shooting a picture of their nearest and dearest against a bright background—an unclouded mid-day sky is a common problem. Invariably, Rosco is dark and the background far brighter. If you did nothing but crank up the exposure you’d better expose your boyfriend, but the background would also brighten to the point where it entirely overwhelms the image. But try editing it with the Light control. Drag its smart slider to the right and Rosco becomes brighter but the background stays as it is or darkens, thus leaving you with the kind of image you could share with your mother versus one that shows him in a poor light. You can do this same kind of thing with the Color and Black & White controls.
photos add options
Even finer adjustments can be made via the Add menu.
But this can be just a starting point (or you can ignore it altogether). Click on the downward pointing triangle next to each control and you’ll see a series of other controls—the Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast, and Black Point controls I mentioned earlier. You can adjust each of these individually using their sliders or by clicking in the appropriate field and entering numeric values. So, if the global Light control gets you close, but not quite there, you can dive down a level and tweak as necessary.

And if that’s not enough control for you, click the Add button in the edit area and you find such additional options as Histogram, Sharpen, Definition, Noise Reduction, Vignette, White Balance, and Levels. Adobe Photoshop (or even Lightroom) it may not be, but if you find iPhoto’s editing controls a little underwhelming, you should be far happier with what Photos offers.

About the cloud

When Photos was first announced a number of people fell into a panic. “Apple can’t force me to keep my images in the cloud!” they cried. And they’re correct. Apple can’t force you to keep your images in the cloud, nor will it attempt to. Using iCloud storage is entirely optional. If you want to only store your images locally and not have them beamed into the cloud, you can. All you need do is ensure that the iCloud Photo Library option is unchecked in the iCloud preference within Photos. Or, if you want your images both in the cloud and on your Mac, enable the Download Original To This Mac option, also within Photos’ iCloud preference.

This latter option has advantages. When you edit an image or movie within Photos for OS X or in the updated version of Photos that will ship with iOS 8.2, those edits are automatically synced with all your devices and your account. For instance, if I convert one of my beach landscape images to black and white for a more dramatic effect, that version will appear on all the devices linked with my iCloud Photos Library. (And if I revert an image, that change will also be populated to my other devices.)
photos icloud options
iCloud storage is not required.
And you don’t lose anything in transit. Images are stored in their original format and resolution—including raw images. And speaking of raw images, it’s important to note that if you import a lot of large raw images and movies into Photos and then choose to store them in the cloud, you may be looking at purchasing additional iCloud storage. When you enable the iCloud Photo Library option, Photos will estimate how much iCloud storage you’ll need to store your current library in the cloud and provide a way for you to purchase more storage if that library is larger than your available iCloud storage.

You’re given 5GB of free iCloud storage when you sign up for an account, but if you need more storage you’ll have to pay for it—$0.99 a month for 20GB of total storage, $3.99 a month for 200GB, $9.99 a month for 500GB, and $19.99 a month for 1TB of storage. Again, iCloud storage is optional. You can continue to store your images on your Mac as you always have.

Project enhancements

Photos also spruces up iPhoto and Aperture’s projects. The book creation tools are now more streamlined—hiding the layout options until you need them, for example—and adding a new Square book format (20 pages in an 8 x 8 inch format for $24.99 and a 20 page 10 x 10 inch book for $39.99 with additional pages priced at $0.79 and $0.99 respectively). Compared to iPhoto, Photos in its current incarnation has lost some of the previous book themes but added a couple of new ones including Bento Box and Travelogue. Additional themes can be downloaded as they become available.

Slideshows can now be configured from within a drop-down window rather than propelling you into a full-screen slideshow window with a small slideshow window appearing within it. As with books, slideshows within the beta version have fewer themes with a couple of new additions. As before, you can export slideshows as movies.
photos slideshow
Photos introduces some new slideshow themes.
Photos also offers an option for printing the panorama images you’ve taken with your iOS device. You can choose prints up to 36-inches wide. You can also order square prints if you’ve chosen to shoot images that way on your iPhone.

Moving from iPhoto/Aperture to Photos

When you install Photos you’ll be offered the option to import your iPhoto library. (If you have more than one iPhoto library, Photos will ask you to choose one to import.) You can also import an Aperture library.

Opening one of these libraries in Photos doesn’t duplicate your existing images. You won’t find one set of images in an iPhoto library and another in a Photos library. But looking at the Finder, you wouldn’t think so. Here’s why.

When you launch Photos and it pulls images from your iPhoto library, a new Photos Library archive appears in the same location as your iPhoto library. And the Finder tells us that it’s a bit bigger than the iPhoto library. But the truth is that it’s not really consuming that amount of space. The Finder simply reflects the size of the library as if it held all the original files, which it isn’t as it’s referencing the original images.

Yes, it’s a bit confounding, but you can test it yourself. In Disk Utility create a disk image with a capacity 25-percent larger than your iPhoto library. Let’s say that your iPhoto library is 2GB and you create a 2.5GB image. Copy your iPhoto library to the disk image and then launch Photos while holding down the Option key. Click Other Library and navigate to the iPhoto library on the disk image. Photos will launch and create a Photos Library archive.

Given that the disk image can hold just 2.5GB of data—4/5ths of which is already being used by your iPhoto library—you should be told there’s not enough storage to complete the operation. And yet it works and there’s the Finder proudly displaying two file sizes that exceed the capacity of the image. This tells you that the Finder is fibbing in regard to how much data each library really holds.
Additionally, iPhoto and Aperture don’t become unusable after you’ve launched Photos. You’ll be asked which app you’d like to use with your images. You can choose iPhoto, if you like, with the caveat that any edits you make in a particular app—iPhotos or Photos—will appear only within the app you used to apply them. So, if you convert an image in Photos to black and white and then open that same image in iPhoto, you’ll see the unedited original color version.

iPhoto events and Aperture projects are converted to albums as neither of these items exist in Photos. Metadata including star ratings, flags, and color labels will be transformed into keywords and become searchable in Photos. Other IPTC metadata such as copyright, contact, and content data is retained as part of the image, but it’s not visible within Photos. Custom metadata fields aren’t transferred to Photos.

Those with OS X developer accounts will be able to play with Photos starting today when they download the beta of OS X 10.10.3. The rest of us will have to wait until the spring when the final (and free) version of 10.10.3 ships.

When that happens, Aperture and iPhoto will no longer be offered on the Mac App Store as new-to-you purchases. If you’ve purchased one of them in the past you’ll be able to download another copy should something happen to the original—much as you can redownload an older version of GarageBand that’s no longer being sold at the Store. For this reason, if you haven’t purchased the latest iPhoto or Aperture and want them, act before they disappear.

First impressions

I’ve had very little time with Photos but my general impression is that it hits a sweet spot for the casual-to-enthusiastic iOS and digital camera shooter. Its navigation is more nimble and, from what I can tell, its performance is significantly improved over iPhoto’s, which I found sluggish with large image libraries. And, scaling back to the big picture, it’s the first of the old iLife apps that shares a common experience among the Mac, iOS devices, and iCloud. All your photos, your most recent edits, wherever you are. It’s an app worth looking forward to.

Verizon drops prices, but there's a catch by Kim Komando

Verizon has been the number-one cell service provider for a while now, but AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have cut prices and upgraded packages recently to try and steal that title. Now, Verizon has responded by reducing its data charges to attract new customers and stop current users from switching to its competitors.

The mega cell phone provider is knocking $10 a month off the data bill for MORE Everything customers that have plans that include 1 GB, 2GB, 3GB or 4 GB of data month. Current Verizon customers can choose to keep their current data limit and lower their monthly bill or keep the existing charges and receive an extra gigabyte of data every month.

So someone with a 2GB plan is currently paying $50/month. If they take the free data option, their data plan jumps to 3GB for the same price. Or they can elect to stick with the 2GB and see their data bill drop 20% to $40/month.

Verizon is offering better discounts to Edge customers, too. Users can now receive a $15 discount every month on plans with 4GB of data or less. Customers that have plans with 6GB of data or more will receive a $25 discount every month.

This announcement is welcome news for Verizon customers, but these savings won't happen automatically for existing customers. If you are a current Verizon MORE Everything customer, you'll have to do a little leg work to take advantage of this new deal.

A rep for Verizon confirms to that current Verizon subscribers will not be automatically opted into either of these choices and must let the company know — either by calling customer service or through the Verizon website — when the changes kick in after Feb. 5.

Making the changes online is your easiest option, so you're not stuck on hold waiting to speak to a customer service representative. To change your plan online, just log in to your Verizon Wireless account and select the "Change Minutes, Text or Data" option underneath the Manage My Account tab. From there, you can select to keep your current data allowance for $10 less a month or receive more data for the price you're paying now.

How to prepare your iPhoto library for Photos for OS X by Christopher Breen

Reader Dave Inglis has The Question about the upcoming Photos for OS X app. He writes:
I read your article about Photos for OS X and the app looks great. What can I do with my current iPhoto library to get it ready for the transition to Photos?
The glib answer is “nothing.” When you finally get your hands on Photos for OS X (which is slated to be released sometime this northern-hemisphere spring) and launch it, you’ll be asked if you’d like to import your iPhoto library. (If you have multiple iPhoto libraries, you can hold down the Option key while launching Photos and then, in the Choose Library window that appears, select a library to use.) Note that cloud syncing works only with the default System Photo Library.
choose library
As with iPhoto, by holding down the Option key at launch you can choose a library for Photos to open.
As I explained in my first look, this won’t cause Photos to duplicate your existing images. It will simply work with those images. If you like, you can still launch iPhoto and work with your images there—with the understanding that any edits you apply will appear only within the app you used to apply them.

So much for glib, let’s talk details. First, now is as good a time as any to start clearing out duplicates in your iPhoto library. I recently addressed this in How to Cull Your iPhoto Library of Duplicates and Bad Photos. I’d suggest you read through it and apply the tips I suggest so that your Photos library isn’t as cluttered with cruft as your iPhoto library was.

If you intend to store your photos in the cloud via Photos’ iCloud Photo Library option, you may want to do more than just remove duplicates and poor images, particularly if you have a very large photo library. Apple provides you with just 5GB of free storage and the iCloud Photo Library counts against that storage. (You can always purchase more storage.) To keep your photo storage under 5GB it may require some serious culling. Consider archiving your meh images and importing just the best ones.
egret info
Star ratings become keywords when you import an iPhoto library into Photos.
You might also rate your images while they’re in iPhoto. Photos lacks the 0 – 5 Star rating system—it instead allows you to make an image a favorite. However, it takes the star ratings you’ve applied in iPhoto and turns them into keywords. So later, if you’d like to find all your most highly rated images, just enter 5 Star in Photos’ Search field and any images that bear that keyword will appear. And if you haven’t identified faces within iPhoto, why not do that while you’re waiting for Photos to arrive? That faces metadata will transfer over from iPhoto.

In short: Do your housekeeping now so that when Photos finally arrives your images will be rarin’ to go from the very first launch.

5 more digital tricks you'll use almost every day by Kim Komando

Whether skiing or going to the beach, place your phone in a sandwich bag to prevent damage and best of all, you can still use the touch screen. Need a fast charge? Put the phone in airplane mode to speed up the process by around 25%. And if you need to pump up the volume in a flash, set your phone inside a plastic, glass or paper cup, sans liquid of course.

Today’s gadgets, apps and sites are so powerful and do so many different things that most of us will use only a fraction of their built-in features. I put together some of the greatest tricks that you will use every day or at least on occasion to impress family and friends.

1. Take a picture with voice

Smartphones and tablets are great for snapping candid pictures. However, tapping the screen to take a picture, or pressing a hardware button, can jiggle the gadget, and ruin the shot.

Of course, you can avoid this by taking a picture using your headphone control buttons. It’s a definite crowd-pleasing, “How’d you do that moment?” If you’d like to learn, click here for the detailed steps on how to do this slick trick and a few others.

That’s old school now. How about telling your phone to take a picture? In Android, an app like Camera ZOOM FX ($3) has voice-activation. VoiceSnap for iOS ($1) does the same thing for iPhones and iPads. These are also great for taking group pictures from a distance.

There's a lot more to taking a great picture than snapping the shutter. To increase your digital photo smarts, here are five secrets for Android and Apple to help you take professional-looking photos.

2. Clean up Facebook News Feed

If you scroll through your Facebook News Feed trying to get past the ads, game invites, and political rants trying to find actual information about your friends, this tip is for you.

Click the downward triangle in the upper right corner of any Facebook post to see a number of options. You can choose to see less from that friend or unfollow them so you don't see anything. If a friend is fond of posting stories, videos and pictures from a specific app or site, you can usually just block that app or site.

For even more News Feed customization options, click the downward triangle in the upper right corner of your profile and select "News Feed Preferences." Here you can see and choose what people, pages and groups you're following and unfollowing.

Finally, add friends to your Close Friends list to see more from them and add people to Acquaintances list for less. To manage your friend lists, click the "Friends" heading in the left column next to your News Feed.

If the Facebook app is devouring your data, try turning off the auto playing videos in your news feed. Click here for the steps to make this welcome change.

3. Really use Google

It's safe to say that without Google Search, the Internet as we know it wouldn't exist. But it’s more than looking up websites.

Expecting a package to be delivered? Just enter the tracking number directly into the search box. Google will pull up quick links that let you easily track the status of your shipment.

Travelers love this one. Simply type your airline name and flight number into Google. You'll instantly see the flight's arrival and departure status, and Google even shows you terminal and gate number information.

Need the weather? Type weather along with the city name or ZIP code.
If you’re watching your weight, type into Google something like, “calories carrots vs potatoes” to get instant nutritional facts. Be sure to click the down arrow to see the details. Google isn't all about work. Click here to learn more about Google's fun side, such as the little Easter eggs programmers slip into search.

4. Your favorite sites in one place

You probably visit a number of websites daily. You might pin a few and bookmark the rest, but that still means you have to look at individual sites and scan the page to see what's new.

What if you could get every new post on your favorite sites to appear in one place? That's what aggregators do. Don't let the fancy name fool you; they're simple to use and make life a lot easier.
Feedly (Free) and Flipboard (Free) are two popular options. Just add your favorite websites, organize them however you want and whenever you open Feedly or Flipboard you'll have plenty of new content to read. Love this one!

5. Remotely control a computer

This isn't a trick you'll use every day, but when you need it you'll want to have it. Say you're helping a friend or family member with a computer issue over the phone, and you know you could fix the problem in 30 seconds if you were standing there. Unfortunately, trying to walk your friend or relative through the fix is going to take an hour.

Instead, log in and take control of their computer with a free remote access program like TeamViewer. It lets you see the other person's screen and control their computer like you're sitting in front of it.

I use programs like this all the time with my friends and relatives. In fact, when I'm setting up their computer, I usually install a remote access program so it's ready to go when they need help down the line.

Bonus trick:

Have you ever considered adding a second screen to your computer? If you haven't, then you probably would after you consider the fact that a second monitor lets you move videos, music, email, chat and many other windows without interrupting what you're doing on your main computer monitor.

Your tablet or smartphone can function as a second monitor to your PC.
First, pick up a stand for your tablet or phone. I sell my recommended model in my store. Then go ahead and download the app iDisplay, follow the setup instructions and you'll have a more useful computer in no time. It’s one of these things once you try, you get it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

5 ways hackers attack you and how to beat them by Kim Komando

Right now, millions of hackers, spammers and scammers are hard at work. They're after your Social Security number, bank account information and social media accounts. With any of these, they can steal your money or trick your friends into giving up theirs.

The scary part is that anyone can be a hacker. For as little as $3,000, you can buy a complete and fully operational exploit kit. This kit does most of the illegal work for you automatically. You get to sit back and rake in the cash, unless you get caught.

Between semi-amateurs with automated systems and serious hackers who are masters of technology and trickery, how can you possibly hope to stay safe? The best way is to know how hackers do what they do.

Once you know that, you can counter their malicious acts. Here are five popular hacker strategies you need to know about and how to counter them.

1. Phishing scams

Lucky you! A Nigerian prince emailed to say he needs help smuggling a fortune out of his country. For a little bit of effort, such as making a few simple wire transfers, you'll get a substantial cut of the loot. You'll be rich! Of course, if you go along with it, the only money you end up transferring is your own, and it's impossible to get back. I bet you're asking yourself, "Who would fall for that?"

Well, tens of thousands of people do every year. That's why Nigerian scams, or 419 scams, are still very popular. But that's just the classic version of a phishing scam; there are more variations than you can count. Other versions might say you won a contest or have a job offer. Maybe the email says someone wants to meet you, or you can make money for shipping some goods. It might say there was a problem shipping you an item, or it pretends to be an important message from a real company you do business with.

The catch is that you have to respond with personal or banking information, pay fees upfront or download a file. Of course, your information and money is going straight to hackers, or the file contains data-stealing viruses. Use common sense before reacting to any email, text or social media link online. Scams rely on making you act quickly. If you think about things long enough, you can usually see through them. Just remember the old saying, "If it looks too good to be true ..." Click here to see a real phishing email and learn how you can tell it's a fake.

You can also get security software that warns you about potential phishing scams, like my sponsor Webroot. More on that later, including how to save 50% when you buy.

2. Trojan horse

Hackers would love to slip a virus on your computer. Once it's installed, a virus can steal your information, send out spam email or attack other computers. The easiest way to get a virus on your computer is to disguise the virus as something harmless or that you really want. If you read "The Odyssey" in school, it shouldn't surprise you that this tactic is nicknamed a Trojan horse, or just Trojan.

One of the most popular ways to deliver a Trojan is a phishing email scam. For example, the email might say it's from a shipping service, bank or other reputable company. There's been a problem with a transaction! To learn more, you have to download and open an email attachment. The attachment might look like a normal file, but it really contains a Trojan. Clicking on the file installs it before you can do anything. Click here to learn one way hackers disguise malicious files as harmless ones.

Similar scams appear on Facebook and Twitter. You think you're going to watch a funny video your friend posted, but instead you get a message saying you need to update your video player. If you install the "update," you're really installing a virus.

The key to defeat this tactic, as with phishing emails, is common sense and not trusting attachments and files you aren't expecting. However, security software, like Webroot, is essential for those times when you click before you think. It can spot malicious programs and keep them from installing before they do any damage.

3. Drive-by downloads

Security software is essential, but it isn't always enough. Out-of-date programs on your computer might have weaknesses hackers can use to bypass your security software and install viruses without you needing to do a thing. To make this happen, hackers set up websites that have malicious code on them. You can end up on these sites by clicking links in phishing emails, social media or even in a Web search. Hackers can also slip malicious code into ads on legitimate sites you might visit regularly.

Once the code is in your browser, it scans your computer programs for security holes. If it finds one that's open, it can trigger a virus to download and install. A security program like Webroot can warn you when you're about to visit a malicious site, and block most virus downloads, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't patch up the security holes on your computer.

To stay safe, you have to keep your programs up to date. Every month, Microsoft releases updates for Windows and Internet Explorer. These updates close critical security holes that hackers exploit. Click here to learn how to update Windows.

Other critical programs to patch are Adobe's Flash and Reader, and Oracle's Java. Using old versions of these programs is like sending hackers an engraved invitation. Click here to learn more about keeping these programs up to date.

You should also be using the latest version of your programs, especially your browser. Click here to find out if your browser is the latest version.

4. Bypassing passwords

In Hollywood movies, hackers are masters of guessing passwords. In the real world, however, very few hackers bother. Instead, they go around passwords. They might get your password from one of the many data breaches happening monthly at major companies. Maybe they guess the basic security question on your account. It could be they slipped a password-stealing virus onto your system.

You can stop a virus with good security software and following the directions I gave above. However, it's up to you to guard against the other dangers. It's important to use a different password for every account. That way, if hackers get their hands on one, they won't get access to all of your accounts. Click here for instructions to create strong, memorable passwords.

If you create weak passwords so you can remember them, or reuse passwords because you have too many accounts, consider getting a password manager. This will securely store everything for you so you don't have to give up security for convenience.

For your multiple gadgets, you want a password manager that works everywhere with no hassle. Part of Webroot's excellent security package is an online password manager that you can access from any computer or mobile gadget. It's the perfect solution to the password puzzle.

You should change how you answer security questions. Give a random answer that has nothing to do with the question. That way, no one can guess it. Click here for tips to create security questions and answers only you will know.

5. Using open Wi-Fi

I'm sure you have a Wi-Fi network at home. Is it encrypted? If you don't know the answer, then it's probably, "no." That means hackers, and neighbors, can connect to your network from outside your house. They can see and record everything you do. Even worse, they can surf to bad websites and download illegal files on your connection, which means you might be getting a visit from the police.
You need to take a few minutes right now and secure your network. Trust me; it's worth it. And if you have secured your Wi-Fi, but you haven't looked at the settings in a few years, it might time to update them. You could be using an older encryption like WEP that hackers can break through in seconds. The instructions for securing your network will be in your router's manual. Or click here for my step-by-step instructions to secure a Wi-Fi network. You'll be glad you did.

Speaking of things you'll be glad you did, you might have noticed that I'm a big fan of the security company Webroot. Not only does Webroot provide world-class security for your PC, it can cover Macs, smartphones and tablets with a single account. No need to mix and match programs and apps. Webroot uses cloud-based scanning, so it's blazing fast and won't hog your system space. Plus, it's always up to date, can spot brand new threats no one knows about yet, and can warn you about malicious websites and phishing scams.

Webroot is one of the best services at stopping viruses, but even it might occasionally miss a tricky one. If that happens, and Webroot can't wipe out the virus normally, Webroot is able to roll back your computer to a point just before the virus invaded. It's similar to Windows' System Restore, but works a lot better.

If you get a really nasty virus that just won't go away, you can signal for help and Webroot technical support will have a representative hop on your computer remotely and wipe out the virus manually, free of charge.

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 myths and misconceptions. don't really understand it. That's why in the past I've tackled common browser

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.

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The best weather apps for iPhone and iPad by Michael Simon

Of all the different kinds of apps that I regularly use on my iPhone, I probably spend the least amount of time with weather ones. That’s not to say I don’t like them, quite the contrary: I’ve downloaded so many of them over the years, I could probably go a year without needing to open the same one twice. But no matter which one I’m using, my time with it is relatively brief—I check the temperature, maybe scan the forecast, and close.

Therein lies the beauty of a great weather app. Unlike note-takers or Twitter clients, weather apps aren’t designed to be used for any substantial length of time. Unless you’re obsessed with all things meteorological or happen to enjoy poring over a month’s worth of barometric readings, the data is actually secondary to the experience. More than any other category in the App Store, there’s quite a bit of overlap among weather apps, but while they all pretty much do the same thing, the interfaces and experiences vary widely.

That’s why picking the best one is so difficult. With virtually every other task I need to do on my iPhone, I have a clear favorite. Tweetbot for Twitter. Daedalus Touch for writing. Fantastical 2 for day planning. But weather apps are far more subjective; on my own device I cycle through a couple dozen apps on a relatively regular basis—and that’s before I started testing them for this article. 
So, to help narrow things down, I set some criteria. First and foremost, current conditions have to be accessible at a glance. More often than not I’m popping into a weather app to see what’s going on right now, so I don’t want to spend any time searching for the pertinent information. An iPad companion helped but wasn’t necessary, but they did have to offer a five-day forecast, along with at least some kind of detailed information, such as radar, precipitation or wind speed. And above all, they had to be accurate. 

Winner: Accuweather Platinum

Accuweather’s good looks are nothing compared to its big, beautiful brain.
This wasn’t an easy decision—and some of you will undoubtedly disagree with me. Accuweather Platinum ($4) set off an avalanche of criticism when it got an extreme iOS 7 makeover, but a year later it’s all the better for it. A quick scan of its reviews will show you that it still has its detractors, but Accuweather has continuously tweaked and refined its vision to deliver an app that’s both minimal and meticulous, drawing an utterly exhaustive picture of the sky above you.

There’s a ton of information crammed into the app’s modular interface, but none of it gets in the way of the current temperature and conditions, clearly displayed against an animated representation of what’s going on outside your window. Any warnings or advisories are positioned at the top of the screen, but scroll a bit down and you’ll find a wealth of customizable weather stats, from commonplace figures for visibility, pressure and dew point to more unique features like hourly precipitation forecasts to the phase of the moon. Clicking on most segments expands them to show a greater level of information, including a very useful plain language description of the forecast.
Accuweather’s array of forecasting tools leave no stone (or cloud) unturned.
But what really sets Accuweather apart is its MinuteCast. Accessible on the main screen, it offers a forensic look at the next two hours, as it literally lets you know the exact moment you’ll need an umbrella on your 30-minute walk. Gesture-based and extremely accurate, it blows away any other app I’ve used for live tracking.

My only real complaint is that it takes a second or two longer to load than I’d like. We’ve become spoiled with instant-on apps, and Accuweather takes a moment to refresh its screen each time it’s launched, occasionally displaying incorrect information while it loads. And if I really want to quibble, the purple-and-blue color scheme can be difficult to read in spots. But overall, it’s a fantastic weather app, and if you’re one of the people who ditched it out of frustration after its initial re-launch, you’d be well served to give it another shot.

(A quick note: If you’re adverse to spending any money on a weather app and looking to grab the free version of Accuweather, just be aware that the inclusion of banner ads upsets the integrity of the interface quite a bit. Since it’s a scrolling app, they’re not so easy to ignore, but the rest of the interface is intact, save for ten less forecast days.)

Runner-up: Dark Sky

Dark Sky isn’t nearly as much fun if it’s not raining, but don’t worry, it’ll direct you to someplace where it is.
Most of the time I check a weather app I want to know one thing: When is it going to rain? Dark Sky ($4) is the only app I’ve used that puts all of its efforts specifically into answering that exact question. It’s so good at what it does, I rarely need to open it anymore—notifications dutifully keep me apprised of when the wet stuff is on its way—but when I do, I find myself using it differently than any other weather app. That is to say, I spend a considerable amount of time with it, even after it gives me the information I seek. 

Instead of a map, Dark Sky lets you literally scan the globe by swiping and pinching to find the most intense weather spots. Always visible by way of a transparent layer just beneath the screen, it puts a whole new spin on weather apps (literally) by turning the radar into the forecast; a 12-day span lets you follow storms and watch as they develop and dissipate, giving a greater understanding to just how hard it is to predict the weather. 

And while most every other weather apps focuses on a few locales of your choosing, Dark Sky encourages you to explore parts of the world you’ll probably never visit. If there’s no precipitation near you, the app will suggest an area where you’re sure to find some, giving you an excuse to play with its stunning interface. Like a Wikipedia wormhole, once you start, you won’t want to stop; Dark Sky sports one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing radars I’ve ever seen on an iOS app (or anywhere else for that matter), and it’s as much of a joy to use as it is to behold.

Best for budding meteorologists: Seasonality Go

Seasonality has forgotten more about weather than most apps will ever know.
Most of us only check weather apps to see the temperature and precipitation forecasts, but those who want to go beyond even the atmospheric readings that Accuweather provides should check out Seasonality Go ($6). Chock full of more charts and data than one could ever possibly need, the app’s bustling interface can be a bit daunting to casual weather buffs, but if you take the time to explore it you won’t be disappointed. 

The main screen (which is customizable on the iPad) displays an excellent cross-section of the current conditions, including air pressure, dew point, and the coolest astronomical chart I’ve ever seen. You’ll also find graphs for a wide array of information, including wind speed, snowfall cloud cover and wave height, as well as a powerful radar map with live satellite overlays, barometric pressure lines and a hypnotizing Particle Mode that shows exactly how the wind is blowing.

Gaucho Software has been promoting an upcoming “Pro” version of Seasonality built specifically for the iPad, but quite frankly, the one currently available is already more advanced than most every other app I tested. It won’t fit everyone’s tastes, but those looking for an in-depth look at the weather on their iOS device should definitely check it out.

The (other) best for budding meteorologists: Weather Underground

Weather Underground is the next best thing to having a Doppler radar in your backyard.
Let’s just call Seasonality Go and my next choice, Weather Underground (free; $2/year subscription to remove ads), a tie for all meteorologists out there. Weather Underground brings the same remarkable and exhaustive online system of crowd-sourced weather measurements to its iOS app, and there’s more than enough within its digital walls to keep the most die-hard of weather junkies extremely happy. There’s so much information here that some screens can get a little overwhelmed (the iPad counterpart, WunderStation, does a much better job with layout), but the customizable interface does a nice job of keeping things in order without sacrificing any of its usability.

Drawing live readings from some 40,000 weather stations around the world, Weather Underground shuns the usual services and radars to present the most localized and comprehensive forecast around. Fans of the service will be pleased to know that its interactive WunderMap is on full display here, with a complete array of buttons to show radar, temperature, precipitation, fronts, webcams, and anything else you need to know, including any active fires or brewing hurricanes. While it’s better for current conditions than forecasting, the sheer breadth of its weather reporting is simply outstanding, and I defy you to find a weather app that’s more exhaustive or accurate.

Most unique: Weathertron 

It looks like a video game, but Weathertron actually tells you a lot about the atmosphere.
The Weather category of the App Store isn’t without its share of funky yet functional interfaces, but of all the ones I’ve tried, Weathertron ($2) is the farthest out there. That’s not an insult (and if it was, I never would have created this category)—Weathertron sets itself apart as one of the most fascinating apps in the App Store, drawing you in with its beautiful design and practically challenging you to figure it what its bars and gradients are trying to telling you.

As much of a live infographic as it is a forecasting app, Weathertron doesn’t just tell you the conditions—you’ll quickly see the temperature and a general overview of what’s outside, but it takes a bit of a close study to understand how to read its hourly breakdown of the day’s cloud cover and precipitation. Even after you grasp it, however, there’s nothing casual about Weathertron, and that’s what makes it so great. Sure, the fluid nature of its UI can get frustrating at times, but you’re unlikely to find a more stimulating weather app out there. 

Best newcomer: Weather Cal

Weather Cal’s slick interface is bolstered by a tight integration with your Calendar appointments.
New and interesting weather apps are constantly popping up, and with such stiff and varied competition, it can be hard to get noticed. But Weather Cal ($3) is off to a great start—and I felt it deserved some recognition here. More than just another pretty face, the app is something of a personal meteorological assistant, incorporating your Calendar events into its forecast for a complete picture of the week ahead. 

Weather Cal’s interface is as thoughtful as its concept, with a muted background color gradient that changes to reflect the current position of the sun. Dragging your finger along the curve at the bottom of the screen gives you a minute-by-minute forecast of the next seven days, and you’ll get some detailed stats by tapping the precipitation circle at the top right. The Calendar integration isn’t quite as smooth as it could be—accessible via a separate screen that doesn’t have the same polish as the main interface—but it’s an example of the attention to detail that helps make Weather Cal an especially strong candidate even in such a crowded field.

Others of note 

Solar uses simple colors to tell you how much sun you’ll see today.
Actually, crowded field might be a bit of an understatement. Even if you’re not interested in any of my selections, you won’t have to look too long to find a capable and competent weather app that fits your budget. At the free end of the spectrum, there are numerous ad-supported apps out there, the most decent of which being The Weather Channel and Yahoo Weather. Both feature very nice interfaces and detailed stats that tastefully work ads into their designs without relying on unsightly banners.

Also free (with an annual $3 in-app subscription to remove ads) is the very popular (and very cluttered) WeatherBug, but if you’re looking for something a whole lot more minimal, there’s the exquisite Solar. You’ll have to forego common data points like humidity, wind speed and precipitation, but what you get in return is a brilliant impersonation of the sky above you. As you slide your finger along the screen, the color gradually changes to reflect the position of the sun, turning your phone into a brilliant color-scape that’s like looking through at a living abstract painting.
Make sure the kiddies aren’t around when you use Authentic to check the weather.
Take a few bucks out of your wallet and your options will greatly expand. For minimalists, there’s Shade ($2), which boils the forecast down to a mélange of simple colors and lines in a surprisingly cogent UI. 

Another personal favorite is Weather Line ($4), which offers a clean and simple interface that plots temperatures and precipitation on an interactive graph to illustrate daily, weekly and monthly trends.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Authentic Weather ($1). Easily the most irreverent weather app on any platform, it eschews everything about forecasting and plainly tells you what’s going on outside using, shall we say, rather colorful language. You could always look out a window to get the same results, but Authentic’s naughty attitude is way more fun.