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  1. #1
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    Default Technology Guidelines

    How to forward e-mail appropriately

    Do you really know how to forward e-mails? 50% of us do; 50% DO NOT.

    Do you wonder why you get viruses or junk mail? Do you hate it?

    Every time you forward an e-mail there is information left over from the people who got the message before you, namely their e-mail addresses & names. As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds, and builds, and builds, and all it takes is for some poor sap to get a virus, and his or her computer can send that virus to every e-mail address that has come across his computer. Or, someone can take all of those addresses and sell them or send junk mail to them in the hopes that you will go to the site and he will make five cents for each hit. That's right, all of that inconvenience over a nickel!

    How do you stop it? Well, there are several easy steps:

    1. When you forward an e-mail, DELETE all of the other addresses that appear in the body of the message (at the top). That's right, DELETE them. Highlight them and delete them, backspace them, cut them, whatever it is you know how to do. It only takes a second You MUST click the "Forward" button first and then you will have full editing capabilities against the body and headers of the* message. If you don't click on "Forward" first, you won't be able to edit the message at all.

    2. Whenever you send an e-mail to more than one person, do NOT use the To: or Cc: fields for adding e-mail addresses. Always use the BCC: (blind carbon copy) field for listing the e-mail addresses. This is the way the people you send to will only see their own e-mail address. If you don't see your BCC: option click on where it says To: and your address list will appear. Highlight the address and choose BCC: and that's it, it's that easy. When you send to BCC: your message will automatically say "Undisclosed Recipients" in the "TO:" field of the people who receive it.

    3. Remove any "FW :" in the subject line. You can re-name the subject if you wish or even fix spelling.

    4. ALWAYS hit your Forward button from the actual e-mail you are reading. Ever get those e-mails that you have to open 10 pages to read the one page with the information on it? By forwarding from the actual page you wish someone to view, you stop them from having to open many e-mails just to see what you sent.

    5. Have you ever gotten an email that is a petition? It states a position and asks you to add your name and address and to forward it to 10 or 15 people or your entire address book. The email can be forwarded on and on and can collect thousands of names and email addresses. *A FACT:* The completed petition is actually worth a couple of bucks to a professional spammer because of the wealth of valid names and email addresses contained therein. If you want to support the petition, send it as your own personal letter to the intended recipient. Your position may carry more weight as a personal letter than a laundry list of names and email address on a petition.

    (Actually, if you think about it, who's supposed to send the petition in to whatever cause it supports? And don't believe the ones that say that the email is being traced, it just isn't so!)

    6. One of the main ones I hate is the ones that say that something like, "Send this email to 10 people and you'll see something great run across your screen." Or, sometimes they'll just tease you by saying something really cute will happen it's not going to happen. Don't send these, they are just chain letters.

    7. Before you forward an Amber Alert, or a Virus Alert, or some of the other ones floating around nowadays, check them out before you forward them. Most of them are junk mail that's been circling the net for YEARS! Just about everything you receive in an email that is in question can be checked out from: http://purportal.com/. It’s really easy to find out if it's real or not. If it's not, please don't pass it on. So please, in the future, let's stop the junk mail and the viruses.

    8. If you’re on a group (yahoogroups, googlegroup, etc) and you have some argue or debate going on, keep it to the group it started in, don’t add other groups in it. Similarly, don’t add other people’s email address in your arguments.

    9. If you’re replying to a message from a group, then reply to the sender and not the group, unless something will benefit the group, but your arguing should be limited to the sender.

  2. #2
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    "Forgot your password" links the easy way in for hackers

    Never mind creating a password with at least eight characters, two of which are numbers, one of which is a capital letter, and one of which is a symbol like (*&^%$). The easiest way for a hacker to weasel into your account is likely the "Forgot your password?" link.

    "Forgot your password?" features are older than the Internet, providing businesses and site owners a simple way to let a user reset a forgotten password, provided he can verify his credentials by asking a few personal questions that only the rightful user should know.

    For years the archetypical question was, of course, the "Mother's maiden name" challenge. In recent years, additional challenges have emerged, such as asking the street you grew up on, your favorite pet, and grandparents' first names.

    Is all of this stuff really secure? More than one researcher is sounding the alarm over these tools, noting that while this data may have been private a decade ago, in an era of personal blogs, online resumes, and rampant social networking services, "personal" information drawn from your past is now widely available for public consumption. According to a researcher at PARC, you can even buy black market directories of personal information "like dog's names," for about $15 per batch. It's certainly a lot easier than guessing passwords like AHFplug41*.

    Think this doesn't happen? There aren't any statistics available, but these hacks are widely suspected in myriad cases where accounts have been compromised. (Even Paris Hilton is said to have fallen prey to the "what is your dog's name?" password reset hack. It doesn't help to have one of the most infamous dogs in America...) But if you need more proof, check out this "how I did it" step by step guide to hacking a password from one writer at Scientific American. In about an hour, it seems, our researcher managed to compromise one (willing) victim's life entirely through password reset links.

    MSNBC has an exhaustive amount of additional information on the issue, but the takeaway is clear: If you provide information for password reset systems, don't use data (like other people's names and addresses) that can be easily discovered or guessed. Better yet, consider creating a second tier of passwords you use for questions like these, and keep them written down and locked in a safe if you must. In other words: Your mother's maiden name may really be Jones, but that you can't pretend it wasn't Mxlpxlxl!7631.

    How I Stole Someone's Identity

    The author asked some of his acquaintances for permission to break into their online banking accounts. The goal was simple: get into their online accounts using the information about them, their families and acquaintances that is freely available online.

    As a professor, a software developer and an author I've spent a career in software security. I decided to conduct an experiment to see how vulnerable people's accounts are to mining the Web for information. I asked some of my acquaintances, people I know only casually, if with their permission and under their supervision I could break into their online banking accounts. After a few uncomfortable pauses, some agreed. The goal was simple: get into their online banking account by using information about them, their hobbies, their families and their lives freely available online. To be clear, this isn't hacking or exploiting vulnerabilities, instead it'smining the Internet for nuggets of personal data. Here's one case. I share it here because it represents some of the common pitfalls and illustrates a pretty serious weakness that most of us have online.

    Setup: This is the case of one subject whom I'll call "Kim." She's a friend of my wife, so just from previous conversations I already knew her name, what state she was from, where she worked, and about how old she was. But that's about all I knew. She then told me which bank she used (although there are some pretty easy ways to find that out) and what her user name was. (It turns out it was fairly predictable: her first initial + last name.) Based on this information, my task was to gain access to her account.

    Step 1: Reconnaissance: Using her name and where she worked, I found two things with a quick Google search: a blog and an old resume. Her blog was a goldmine: information about grandparents, pets, hometown, etcetera (although it turns out I didn't need to use most of this). From the resume I got her old college e-mail address and from her blog I got her G-mail address.

    Step 2: Bank Password Recovery Feature: My next step was to try the password recovery feature on her online banking site. The site didn't ask any personal questions, instead it first sent an e-mail to her address with a reset link which was bad news, because I didn't have access to her e-mail accounts. So e-mail became my next target.

    Step 3: G-mail: I tried to recover her G-mail password, blindly guessing that this was where the bank would have sent its password-reset e-mail. When I tried to reset the password on her G-mail account, Google sent its password reset e-mail to her old college e-mail account. Interestingly, G-mail actually tells you the domain (for example, xxxxx.edu) where it sends the password reset e-mail to, so now I had to get access to that…ugh.

    Step 4: College E-Mail Account: When I used the "forgot my password" link on the college e-mail server, it asked me for some information to reset the password: home address? (check—found it on that old resume online); home zip code? (check—resume); home country? (uh, okay, check—found it on the resume); and birth date? (devastating—I didn't have this). I needed to get creative.

    Step 5: Department of Motor Vehicles: Hoping she had gotten a speeding ticket, I hit the state traffic courts' Web sites, because many states allow you to search for violations and court appearances by name. These records include a birth date (among other things). I played around with this for about 30 minutes with no luck when I realized that there was probably a much easier way to do this.

    Step 6: Back to the Blog: In a rare moment of clarity I simply searched her blog for "birthday." She made a reference to it on a post that gave me the day and month but no year.

    Step 7: Endgame (or How to Topple a House of Cards): I returned to the college e-mail password recovery screen and typed in her birth date, guessing on the year. Turns out that I was off on the year of birth but, incredibly, the university password reset Web page gave me five chances and even told me which field had inaccurate information! I then changed her college e-mail password, which gave me access to her G-mail password reset e-mail. After clicking the link, Google asked me personal information that I easily found on her blog (birthplace, father's middle name, etcetera). I changed the G-mail password, which gave me access to the bank account reset e-mail, and I was also asked for similar personal information (pet name, phone number and so forth) that I had found on her blog. Once I reset the password, I had access to her money (or at least I would have).

    Needless to say, Kim was disturbed. Her whole digital identity sat precariously on the foundation of her college e-mail account; once I had access to it, the rest of the security defenses fell like a row of dominoes. What's striking about Kim's case is how common it is. For many of us, the abundance of personal information we put online combined with the popular model of sending a password reset e-mail has our online security resting unsteadily on the shoulders of one or two e-mail accounts. In Kim's case some of that information came from a blog, but it could just as easily have come from a MySpace page, a sibling's blog (speaking of their birthday, mom's name, etcetera) or from any number of places online.

    Battling this threat requires us to make better choices about how we prove who we are online and what we make available on the Internet. Go and do a self-check. Try to reset you passwords and see what questions are asked to verify your identity. Some questions are better than others. Date of birth, for example, is bad. In addition to the DMV, there is a wealth of public records available online where folks can track down when you were born. Most account reset features give you a choice of questions or methods to use. Go for questions that ask about obscure things that you won't forget (or can at least look up), like your favorite frequent flyer number. Avoid questions that are easy to guess, such as which state you opened your bank account in. All of these are, of course, stopgap measures until we find better ways to prove our identities online.

    It's also critical to remember thatonce you put data online, it's almost impossible to delete it later. The more you blog about yourself, the more details you put in your social networking profiles, the moreinformation about you is being archived, copied, backed up and analyzed almost immediately. Think first, post later.

    As for Kim, she's still blogging, but now she's a little more careful about the information she volunteers and has cleaned house on her old passwords and password reminder questions. Next time I do this, I'll have to figure out the name of her favorite primary school teacher.

  3. #3
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    Wow scary stuff.
    "The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger." (Sahih Al Bukhari Vol 8. No.135)

  4. #4
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    Default How To Prep Laptops For Airport Security

    How To Prep Laptops For Airport Security

    By K.C. Jones
    TechWebFri Aug 11, 8:06 PM ET

    Some companies are beginning to rethink laptop security policies in light of the United Kingdom's ban on electronic devices in airplane cabins.
    Others are pressuring authorities to ease the restrictions, which prevent business travelers leaving the United Kingdom from keeping close tabs on the machines and the sensitive data they contain.

    In the meantime, security providers are offering a few tips for travelers flying in and out of the United Kingdom.

    "Although this greatly impacts international business travelers, this could also foreshadow a broader ban and tighter security restrictions on a global basis," John Livingston, chairperson and CEO of Absolute Software, said in a prepared statement. "These precautions make good business sense at anytime " not just during a period of heightened security. Laptop theft, data security and identity theft are threats that all travelers face on a daily basis. These steps can help mitigate risk, prevent a business disruption and lead to the recovery of lost or stolen laptops."

    Whether the ban is temporary in the immediate aftermath of the arrest of more than 20 people allegedly planning to use electronics to detonate bombs in mid-flight, or whether it becomes permanent, Absolute Software suggests the following precautions:

    1. Use luggage locks approved by the Transportation Security Administration to deter theft.

    2. Pack laptops with soft foam or bubble wrap and place laptop bags inside other luggage to protect them from rough handling and to keep them inconspicuous.

    3. Use passwords with a combination of numbers and letters, as well as encryption, solutions to prevent unauthorized access to laptops and sensitive data.

    4. Back-up valuable data before travel to minimize the risk of data loss or lost productivity in case of theft. Since the information is often more valuable than the computer itself, it is important to protect the data as much as possible.

    5. Invest in asset tracking and recovery software. Absolute Software recommends tools like its CompuTrace, which is embedded in the BIOS of computers.

    6. Use remote data protection, so sensitive information can be wiped remotely if the laptop is lost or stolen.

    7. Carry portable storage devices, like external thumb drives, for easy access to data in case luggage is delayed or lost.

    8. Keep accurate records, including receipts and the computer's make, model, and serial number in a safe place for filing claims.

    9. Be sure to shut down the laptop, not leave it in standby or hibernate mode, before packing in luggage.

    Computer Security Products also offers warning stickers, tattoos and other products to deter theft. Secure IT also offers a variety of products like locks, keys and cables.

    Other steps to take: use a secure operating system; make sure the user name is not stored in the login box; register laptops with manufacturers; and remove and store PCMCIA cards in a separate, secure place.

  5. #5
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    Default How to Share Files Securely

    How to Share Files Securely - One Swarm - bittorrent client - p2p

    OneSwarm is a new peer-to-peer tool that provides users with explicit control over their privacy by letting them determine how data is shared. Instead of sharing data indiscriminately, data shared with OneSwarm can be made public, it can be shared with friends, shared with some friends but not others, and so forth. We call this friend-to-friend (F2F) data sharing. OneSwarm is:

    * Privacy preserving: OneSwarm uses source address rewriting to protect user privacy. Instead of always transmitting data directly from sender to receiver (immediately identifying both), OneSwarm may forward data through multiple intermedaries, obscuring the identity of both sender and receiver. For more details, check out the OneSwarm overview screencast or our papers.

    * User friendly: OneSwarm’s interface is web-based and supports real-time transcoding of many audio and video formats for in-browser playback, eliminating the need for casual users to master a new application’s interface or search for custom media codecs.

    * Open: OneSwarm is freely available and built on existing standards. OneSwarm can operate as a fully backwards compatible BitTorrent client, and its friend-to-friend data sharing features are built on cryptographic standards, e.g., X.509 certificates and SSL encryption.

    Download: http://oneswarm.cs.washington.edu/download.html
    Attached Files

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    Default 7 Clever Google Tricks Worth Knowing

    7 Clever Google Tricks Worth Knowing

    Below I have compiled a list of 7 clever Google tricks that I believe everyone should be aware of. Together I think they represent the apex of the grand possibilities associated with Google search manipulation tricks and hacks. Although there are many others out there, these 7 tricks are my all-time favorite. Enjoy yourself.

    1. Find the Face Behind the Result – This is a neat trick you can use on a Google Image search to filter the search results so that they include only images of people. How is this useful? Well, it could come in handy if you are looking for images of the prominent people behind popular products, companies, or geographic locations. You can perform this search by appending the code &imgtype=face to the end of the URL address after you perform a standard Google Image search.

    2. Google + Social Media Sites = Quality Free Stuff – If you are on the hunt for free desktop wallpaper, stock images, Wordpress templates or the like, using Google to search your favorite social media sites is your best bet. The word “free” in any standard search query immediately attracts spam. Why wade through potential spam in standard search results when numerous social media sites have an active community of users who have already ranked and reviewed the specific free items that interest you. All you have to do is direct Google to search through each of these individual social media sites, and bingo… you find quality content ranked by hundreds of other people.

    3. Find Free Anonymous Web Proxies – A free anonymous web proxy site allows any web browser to access other third-party websites by channeling the browser’s connection through the proxy. The web proxy basically acts as a middleman between your web browser and the third-party website you are visiting. Why would you want to do this? There are two common reasons:

    • You’re connecting to a public network at a coffee shop or internet café and you want privacy while you browse the web. You don’t want the admin to know every site you visit.
    • You want to bypass a web content filter or perhaps a server-side ban on your IP address. Content filtering is common practice on college campus networks. This trick will usually bypass those restrictions.

    There are subscription services and applications available such as TOR and paid VPN servers that do the same thing. However, this trick is free and easy to access from anywhere via Google. All you have to do is look through the search results returned by the queries below, find a proxy that works, and enter in the URL of the site you want to browse anonymously.

    4. Google for Music, Videos, and Ebooks - Google can be used to conduct a search for almost any file type, including Mp3s, PDFs, and videos. Open web directories are one of the easiest places to quickly find an endless quantity of freely downloadable files. This is an oldie, but it’s a goodie! Why thousands of webmasters incessantly fail to secure their web severs will continue to boggle our minds.

    5. Browse Open Webcams Worldwide – Take a randomized streaming video tour of the world by searching Google for live open access video webcams. This may not be the most productive Google trick ever, but it sure is fun! (Note: you may be prompted to install an ActiveX control or the Java runtime environment which allows your browser to view certain video stream formats.)

    6. Judge a Site by its Image – Find out what a site is all about by looking at a random selection of the images hosted on its web pages. Even if you are somewhat familiar with the target site’s content, this can be an entertaining little exercise. You will almost surely find something you didn’t expect to see. All you have to do is use Google’s site: operator to target a domain in an image search.

    7. Results Based on Third-Party Opinion - Sometimes you can get a better idea of the content located within a website by reading how other websites refer to that site’s content. The allinanchor: Google search operator can save you large quantities of time when a normal textual based search query fails to fetch the information you desire. It conducts a search based on keywords used strictly in the anchor text, or linking text, of third party sites that link to the web pages returned by the search query. In other words, this operator filters your search results in a way such that Google ignores the title and content of the returned web pages, but instead bases the search relevance on the keywords that other sites use to reference the results. It can add a whole new dimension of variety to your search results.

    Bonus Material:
    Here is a list of my favorite Google advanced search operators, operator combinations, and related uses:

    • link:URL = lists other pages that link to the URL.
    • related:URL = lists other pages that are related to the URL.
    • site:domain.com “search term = restricts search results to the given domain.
    • allinurl:WORDS = shows only pages with all search terms in the url.
    • inurl:WORD = like allinurl: but filters the URL based on the first term only.
    • allintitle:WORD = shows only results with terms in title.
    • intitle:WORD = similar to allintitle, but only for the next word.
    • cache:URL = will show the Google cached version of the URL.
    • info:URL = will show a page containing links to related searches, backlinks, and pages containing the url. This is the same as typing the url into the search box.
    • filetype:SOMEFILETYPE = will restrict searches to that filetype
    • -filetype:SOMEFILETYPE = will remove that file type from the search.
    • site:www.somesite.net “+www.somesite.net” = shows you how many pages of your site are indexed by google
    • allintext: = searches only within text of pages, but not in the links or page title
    • allinlinks: = searches only within links, not text or title
    • WordA OR WordB = search for either the word A or B
    • “Word” OR “Phrase” = search exact word or phrase
    • WordA -WordB = find word A but filter results that include word B
    • WordA +WordB = results much contain both Word A and Word B
    • ~WORD = looks up the word and its synonyms
    • ~WORD -WORD = looks up only the synonyms to the word
    • More info.

  7. #7
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    Default Guidelines to avoid spam

    Guidelines to avoid spam

    Increase your protection level as you need to
    To obtain the maximum protection possible from using the Junk E-mail Filter and other enhanced privacy features, set the protection level of the Junk E-mail Filter to High or to Safe Lists Only. (See QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE)

    Keep your Junk E-mail Filter updated
    Updates are available at Downloads on Office Online. Under Office Update, click Check for Updates.

    Block images in HTML messages that spammers use as Web beacons
    A Web beacon can be a graphic image, linked to an external Web server, that is placed in an HTML-formatted message and can be used to verify that your e-mail address is valid when the message is opened and images downloaded. By default, Outlook is set to block automatic picture downloads. To verify what your automatic download settings are, on the Tools menu, click Options. Click the Security tab, and then click Change Automatic Download Settings. Verify that the Don't download pictures or other content automatically in HTML e-mail check box is selected.

    Turn off automatic processing of meeting requests and read and delivery receipts Spammers sometimes resort to sending meeting requests and messages with delivery receipts requested. Responding to meeting requests and read and delivery receipts automatically makes you vulnerable to Web beacons.

    Limit where you post your e-mail address Be cautious about posting your e-mail address on public Web sites, and remove your e-mail address from your personal Web site. If you list or link to your e-mail address, you can expect to be spammed.

    Disguise (or "munge") your e-mail address when you post it to a newsgroup, chat room, bulletin board, or other public places
    For example, you can give your e-mail address as "s0me0ne@example.c0m" by using the number zero instead of the letter "o." This way, a person can interpret your address, but the automated programs that spammers use cannot.

    Use multiple e-mail addresses for different purposes
    You might set up one for personal use to correspond with colleagues, and use another for more public activities, such as requesting information, shopping, or for subscribing to newsletters, discussion lists, and newsgroups.

    Review the privacy policies of Web sites When you sign up for online banking, shopping, and newsletters, review the privacy policy closely before you reveal your e-mail address and other personal information. Look at the Web site for a link (usually at the bottom of the home page) or section called "Privacy Statement," "Privacy Policy," "Terms and Conditions," or "Terms of Use." If the Web site does not explain how it will use your personal information, think twice about using that service.

    Watch out for check boxes that are already selected
    When you buy things online, companies sometimes add a check box (already selected!) to indicate that it is fine to sell or give your e-mail address to other businesses (third parties). Clear the check box so that your e-mail address won't be shared.

    Don't reply to spam
    Don't reply even to unsubscribe unless you know and trust the sender. Answering spam just confirms that your e-mail address is live.

    If a company uses e-mail messages to ask for personal information, don't respond by sending a message
    Most legitimate companies will not ask for personal information in e-mail. Be suspicious if they do. It could be a spoofed e-mail message meant to look like a legitimate one. This tactic is known as "phishing" because, as the name implies, the spam is used as a means to "fish" for your credentials, such as your account number and passwords that are necessary to access and manipulate your financial accounts. If the spam is from a company that you do business with — for example, your credit card company — call the company, but don't use a phone number provided on the e-mail. Use a number that you find yourself, either through directory assistance, a bank statement, a bill, or other source. If it is a legitimate request, the telephone operator should be able to help you.

    Don't contribute to a charity based on a request in e-mail
    Unfortunately, some spammers prey on your good will. If you receive an appeal from a charity, treat it as spam. If it is a charity that you want to support, find their number elsewhere and call them to find out how you can make a contribution.

    Don't forward chain e-mail messages
    Besides causing more traffic over the line, forwarding a chain e-mail message might be furthering a hoax, and you lose control over who sees your e-mail address.

    Don't list yourself in Internet directories
    This is a tough one. If you're in the regular phone book, chances are you're in one of the big directories such as BigFoot, AnyWho, InfoSpace, Switchboard, and Yahoo!. Look yourself up, and there you'll be. There is probably a place to add your e-mail address (for free, can you believe it?), but my advice is: Don't.

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    Default Basic System Maintenance

    Basic System Maintenance

    One of the most common questions I have been asked has been, “Why is my computer so slow?” This has been followed closely by, “What can I do to speed up my computer?”

    The answer can be as varied as the number of computers with the problem. The solutions can range from some simple maintenance to hardware repair/upgrades or even a combination. Here are some common things you can do to improve system performance.

    1. Run a thorough scan disk.
      Errors in the files on your hard drive can reduce performance as can a hard drive that is developing physical errors. Scan disk will repair many of the file errors on your hard drive. Running the thorough scan disk will also check the hard drive for physical errors. Remember, depending on the size of your hard drive this can take a lot of time and you cannot do anything else at the same time.
    2. The best time to run scan disk is when you do not need to use the computer.
    3. Delete temporary files from your hard drive.
      Temporary files are usually the files left over after installing a program and can be safely deleted.
    4. Clean your internet browser cache.
      Cache files are those left over from your browsing experience. They mostly consist of images that your browser had to download in order to display on a web page you are viewing.
    5. Defrag the files on your hard drive.
      Defrag arranges the files on your hard drive so that they can be accessed more efficiently. This has two advantages. One, your system operates more efficiently. Two, your hard drive will last longer because it will not have to work as hard to access files.
    6. Perform a virus scan.
      Many viruses use so much of your system’s resources that they will greatly degrade performance. Some will even crash your system completely. Make sure your virus definitions are up to date and run a complete virus scan of your system. This should be done weekly.
    7. Check your system for spyware/adware.
      Many websites install spyware/adware on your system without your knowledge. These can be as simple as cookies that track where you surf to actual programs that give others access to your computer. There are many utility programs that you can download to scan for these files.
    8. Clean the dust out of your computer.
      It seems too simple but just having a dirty computer can slow it down. If there is an excessive buildup of dust inside your computer, it will cause a heat buildup. This heat buildup will degrade performance as well accelerate wear and tear on the parts inside your computer which can lead to the premature failure of a critical part. Remember to unplug your computer before opening the case. Also, remember to NOT bump any of the internal parts with the vacuum to prevent damage.

    These steps are something that we can all try if our system is running slow. If these do not get the performance of your system back to where you think it should be then a few more things can be tried. Many utility programs will perform deep checks on your system’s registry as well as look for missing shortcuts and even missing Windows files.

    Another possibility is that there are too many programs starting when you turn on your computer. In Windows 98SE or XP (both home and pro) this is easy to check using the msconfig utility. From the ‘run’ command type ‘msconfig’ and hit the enter key. This will bring up the Windows Configuration Utility where you can check what is starting with Windows and it gives you the option of turning off the auto startup of many programs. In other versions of Windows (95, NT, 2000) it would be best to have someone with a good working knowledge of the Windows Registry service your computer.

    If all this fails then you may need to reformat your hard drive or upgrade hardware. Remember too that you always have the option of taking your system in to a qualified service technician. Sometimes spending a little extra money will save you hours and hours of headaches or worse yet, the loss of data.

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    Man accused of planting spyware to photograph women

    by Dan Whitcomb- Jun 9, 2011

    (Reuters) - A 20-year-old California man was arrested on Wednesday, accused of planting spyware on dozens of computers to secretly photograph women in a state of undress, police said.

    Trevor Harwell was taken into custody at his home in Fullerton, where detectives found hundreds of thousands of the pictures on his computer, Fullerton Police Spokesman Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said.

    Harwell is accused of installing the program, which gave him remote access to the user's computer and webcam, while working as a technician for a local computer repair company, Goodrich said.

    "Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women. Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes," Goodrich said.

    Harwell then allegedly stored the photos on a remote server and eventually downloaded them to his own computer.

    Police say they began investigating Harwell after a Fullerton resident contacted authorities over a suspicious message on his daughter's computer.

    The message mimicked a system error advising her of a problem with an "internal sensor" and advised: "If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor."

    Goodrich said many users who got a similar message took their laptops into the bathroom while they showered, where Harwell allegedly photographed them undressing or naked.


    Never leave your computer/laptop alone with anyone...

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    Not sure when to buy that new CPU or digital camera? Let Microsoft help you

    By Sebastian Anthony - July 13, 2011

    If you’ve been buying computer components or consumer electronics for a few years, you will know that there’s a certain “flow” to the pricing. Companies like Nvidia and ATI/AMD generally stick to the same release pattern, which in turn creates price drops at predictable intervals. Likewise, many electronics manufacturers present their new devices at CES in January, and follow up with a bunch of price drops to superseded products in spring.

    Now, in an ideal world, every company would agree to drop their prices at fixed, 3- or 6-month intervals — but alas, the chances of happening are less likely than Samsung and Apple working together to create an iGalaxy 4S. Instead, picking the right time to buy a new CPU or LCD TV is something of an arcane art. You can follow the price on Amazon for a few weeks and try to get a grip on pricing fluctuations — but what if a competing manufacturer surprises everyone and releases a strong competitor, driving down the price? Prices can even go up if something happens to the supply chain. There’s also the problem of waiting for too long: yes, you can wait six months for a cheaper price … but then why not wait another month… and another month…

    Fortunately, a team at Microsoft Research Search Labs has decided to tackle this problem with a research project entitled Ameliorating Buyer’s Remorse and a search tool called Prodcast. Prodcast keeps track of product prices over a period of time, which it then uses to create a prediction of whether the price of a product will drop or rise in the next month, and by how much. Don’t get your hopes up, though: Prodcast isn’t publicly accessible yet. The research team is presenting the tool and their findings at next month’s Knowledge Discovery and Data mining conference, though, and it might be put online afterward — or perhaps it will find a home in Microsoft’s Bing search engine?

    Until then, however, the Ameliorating Buyer’s Remorse research paper [PDF] has some interesting graphs that we can use to time our hardware purchases — the most useful of which is included below. You can see the huge price dip in November (Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season), and the subsequent price hike afterward. Interestingly, while November is definitely the best time to buy a digital camera, printers seem to be immune to Black Friday sales and are best bought in March. In general, there seems to be a trend towards consumer electronics costing more at the start of the year, when most new models are released.

    Unfortunately, components like RAM and CPUs aren’t included — but if you look at the Global trend line, June and November are probably the best time to upgrade or build a new rig.

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    How to Extend Your Wifi Range

    By Tecca – 12/3/2011

    If you use a wifi network at home, there are undoubtedly limits to where you can access the signal. You might get a strong connection at the kitchen table, but take your laptop to the living room and you lose the signal. If you're looking to boost your signal a few feet or get a strong connection all the way upstairs in the back bedroom, we've got a handful of simple tricks and more advanced techniques to get you on connected to your home wifi from anywhere in your house.

    Move your router:

    * It's so simple, but many people don't realize that where you put your router really does make a difference. Obviously a central location is best, but for many, you are tied to putting the router where the Internet connection comes into the house.

    * Beyond simple proximity, consider the router's height. The higher your router is on a shelf or cabinet, the less physical interference it's likely to encounter. Move the router to the best possible position to take advantage of doorways and open spaces instead of walls and corners. Wifi might move through the airwaves, but furniture, walls and appliances can weaken your signal substantially.

    * Signal interference is one of the biggest culprits that might be at work if your wifi is weak. Walls and physical obstructions block your signal, but signals emitted by any electromagnetic household object do too. Scoot your router away from anything that might interfere: cordless phones, microwaves, wireless game controllers, other wifi-enabled devices (TVs, etc.), Bluetooth devices, and even flourescent lightsand elevators.

    Technical tweaks:

    Once you've got your router in an ideal spot, take a look at your equipment. These next steps can help you further improve your wifi signal.

    * Did you know routers have channels? If you live in close proximity to someone else with a wifi network you may both be trying to use the same channel and degrading your signals.
    To find out if you are "crossing the streams" use WiFi Stumbler or inSSIDer to find the best and least-trafficked channel for your router to broadcast on. Once you've found the optimal channel, follow these step-by-step instructions to get your router on the right track.

    * Depending on the age of your router, it may be slower than newer models. Upgrade an older b or g router to an n router to extend your range for relatively reasonable cost. There are some new n routers for as little as $30. An n router can handle local electrical and physical signal interference better than b and g and may get you quite a bit more range.

    * Lesser-known fact: The "current standard" 802.11n routers can operate at either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands, and 2.4 GHz is far better at travelling through walls. So if you already have a Wireless-n router and need it to extend farther, make sure it's set to use 2.4 GHz instead of 5 GHz.

    * The internal antenna on your laptop itself can be a factor in how much range you get. Even if your laptop has built-in wifi, it could be well worth picking up an external USB adapter, like this $30 option from Netgear.

    This could also help an older laptop without Wireless-N support take advantage of faster speeds and improved range from a new 802.11n router.

    Invest in network extension options:

    * Wifi repeaters amplify and extend your wireless signal. Put a repeater within range of your existing wifi router and it will relay that signal out to hard-to-reach locations around your home or office. They cost about $90 and while they can theoretically double your range, real life results tend to vary considerably. If you've had good or bad luck with a repeater, we welcome any advice or testimonials in the comments section below.

    * Powerline networking uses the electrical wiring in your house to extend your Internet coverage. This is especially good if you want to get Internet access in a back room or you want to connect a gaming console that's on an old TV in the garage. Plug one powerline adapter into your router and the other into an electrical plug. Then in the far room where you want connectivity, plug the other powerline adapter into an electrical plug and voila - you've got Internet, you can even put a second wireless router on that connection. Setting up an alternative powerline network using your home's own AC power adapters can circumvent many of the most common wireless connectivity problems, and you don't even need to give up wifi altogether. If you look into getting started with a powerline setup, be sure to stick with one manufacturer when buying your equipment to avoid any compatibility issues.


    Wifi could be zapping your sperm

    Emma Woollacott - November 29, 2011

    Argentinian scientists say they've uncovered a link between Wifi use and sperm damage - and it's got nothing to do with the videos you're watching.

    Published in Fertility and Sterility, the team from Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba say that Wifi can increase DNA damage and make the little chaps less mobile.

    "Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," they say.

    "At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wifi to the internet, or what use conditions heighten this effect."

    The team took semen samples from 29 healthy men and placed them under a laptop downloading data from the internet. They compared the results with those from samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer.

    And, after four hours, they found that the samples exposed to Wifi showed three times as much DNA damage as the others. And only three-quarters of the sperm were still perky and wriggling, compared with 86 percent for the samples stored away from the computer.

    The team blames the Wifi radiation for the effects. It's not the laptop itself, they say, as that emits negligible radiation.

    Previous studies have linked laptop use with sperm damage, but the culprit was identified as temperature - sitting with one's legs apart and letting it all hang out appeared to prevent the problem.

    This study is the first to link Wifi itself with sperm damage, although similar effects have been reported from the use of mobile phones.

    Concern: A quarter of sperm exposed to WiFi radiation in the study were no longer swimming around after four hours

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    Hotmail's - Add a plus address

    With Hotmail, you have many options to keep your inbox clean. One of these is to create and use different Hotmail addresses for different online tasks. Then it becomes easier to sort and delete or move email messages to specific folders, leaving your inbox neat and organized.
    Create a plus address

    Create a plus address by adding a plus sign (+) then a word to your email address. For example, if you want an address for travel-related email or newsletters, and your email address is anna6000@live.com, you might create a plus address like anna6000+travel@live.com. All email is still sent to anna6000@live.com.

    Use a plus address

    From your Hotmail inbox, search for email messages sent to the plus address, and then delete or move all of the messages to a separate folder.
    Picture of the search box in Hotmail

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    Microsoft Office 2013 preview: details, screenshots and impressions

    By Dana Wollman posted Jul 16th, 2012

    Perhaps the biggest news isn't any single feature Microsoft's added to Word, but how and where you'll access your files. With this version, the company is moving to a subscription-based model wherein your Office files are tied to your Microsoft ID. Once you sign up, you can download the various desktop apps to a certain number of devices and, as with Windows 8, your settings, SkyDrive files and even the place where you left off in a document will follow you from device to device. (It's telling, we think, that files now save to the cloud by default.) As you'd expect, too, this version is also more tablet-friendly than editions past, with a touch mode that widens the spacing between onscreen objects and flattens menus. In Word and PowerPoint, you'll also find a read-only mode that turns documents into full-screen editions, whose pages you can swipe through as you would an e-book or digital magazine.

    Of course, Microsoft included plenty of granular updates like PDF editing and a behind-the-scenes Presenter View in PowerPoint. Fortunately for you, curious power users, we've been spending the better part of a week testing the software on a Samsung Series 7 Slate loaded up with Windows 8.


    General look and feel

    For those of you who thought Microsoft would completely overhaul Office ahead of the Windows 8 release, let's put it this way: if you could survive the transition to Ribbon menus in Office 2007, you'll quickly feel at home here. The Ribbon is, indeed, still the cornerstone of the Office experience, the visual metaphor permeating Word, Excel, Outlook and every other application in the suite.

    Nonetheless, Microsoft has made some subtle changes to the UI, and they're all quite important. For starters, no matter what app you're using, you'll find your name and Microsoft account photo in the upper-right corner -- a reminder that the cloud is now the linchpin to the Office experience. From there, you can click the photo to adjust your account settings, swap in a new picture or even switch accounts.

    Cloud integration

    Being able to save to the cloud is hardly a new feature in Office, but for the first time saving to SkyDrive is the default, not the C drive. (SkyDrive Pro support is coming as well, says Microsoft.) And when you do hit save, you'll even see a progress bar on the bottom of the screen, confirming your latest draft made it safely to the cloud. As you'd expect, of course, the built-in options for saving to the cloud are limited to Microsoft's own services (SkyDrive and SharePoint). If you want to upload to Dropbox or Google Drive, you'll have to do it outside Office.

    And since your files are stored online by default, it's fairly easy to share them on the web as well. Throughout these various Office apps, you can share your work with someone by sending them a URL, allowing them to follow along in a browser even if they don't happen to have Office installed on their local machine. To do this, just hit File, Share and choose either "Get link" or "Invite people," if you want them to have editing privileges. If, for some reason, the version fails to upload, you'll see a banner stretching across the top of the screen, prompting you to try that save again. From the same sharing menu, you can also post your work to a social network or email a document as an attachment, but that last bit isn't new.

    Another perk: a feature called Resume Reading allows you to pick up exactly where you left off, even if you resume editing on another device. Though this feature doesn't apply to most apps in the Office family, you will see it in Word as well as PowerPoint.

    Lastly, in various Office apps it's now easier to toss in a photo you found online. For example, Word is now integrated with Facebook and Flickr so that you pull pictures straight from there, instead of having to download it and then manually insert it into the doc. Obviously the only caveat is that you need an internet connection, so maybe save a Disney World photo or two on your desktop for offline emergencies.

    Touch mode

    Microsoft has made some subtle changes to the UI, and they're all quite important

    Across the various apps, too, you can use a new touch mode to make the software a little more finger-friendly. To expose this option, click on that small arrow in the upper-left corner of the screen -- you know, the one you already use to customize which icons are visible and which ones are hidden. Once you select touch mode, the icon that appears should look like a circle with a dotted line around it.

    It's easy to imagine that, with the press of a button, Office would somehow take on more of a Metro-inspired look, with large, finger-friendly icons and -- dare we say it -- a more dumbed-down interface. Actually, the adjustments Office makes in touch mode are far more subtle. In short, enabling this mode widens the spacing between onscreen objects, making it less likely that you'll tap the wrong thing. This mode also causes various menus to flatten so that you can see options with less finger input involved. Again, that doesn't mean the objects on screen suddenly become larger to accommodate finger input, but this mechanism at least cuts down on the amount of tapping you'll end up doing.


    Spend enough time in Office 2013 and you'll notice dozens of visual flourishes that serve to give the software that extra bit of spit and polish. Office comes bearing glossy new icons, for one. Different apps like Word and PowerPoint have improved alignment guides, which become visible when you're inserting tables and other objects (we first noticed this while inserting a YouTube clip).

    Also, animated transitions are everywhere: a slide of the screen when you hit the File tab, Excel charts growing before your eyes. As a Microsoft rep explained it, the idea is to offer some visual feedback to new users, who might not totally know their way around yet. Whether you require that kind of babying is debatable, but we're sure of this much: the animations are slick -- pretty, even -- and everything about the suite feels fast: fluid, brisk and refreshingly devoid of bugs.

    Getting started

    This isn't your old-school software installation, kids. The beauty of Office 2013's software-as-a-service model is that you get automatic updates and all that jazz you've come to expect from the other web-based services in your life. So it's fitting, then, that the installation begins not with a software download, but by selecting your preview version and then signing in with your Microsoft / Windows Live ID. Wait a few minutes for the setup to unfold, and then download Office to your various devices.

    (Take note: Office 2013 will run on Windows 7 and the Win8 Release Preview; it's not compatible with Vista, and it won't work with earlier builds of Windows 8, such as the Consumer Preview.) Armed with a speedy WiFi connection, we were up and running in five minutes and, again, the experience was smooth and crash-free.

    This might be a good time to clarify the minimum hardware requirements. So long as you have 3.5GB of free disk space and an X86 or X64 system clocked at 1GHz or higher, you should be good to go. DirectX10 graphics are required, along with a minimum resolution of 1024 x 576. Microsoft also recommends 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems, and 2GB for 64-bit machines.


    Look and feel

    When you open Word for the first time, you'll notice some changes to that introductory start page. Now, the left-hand pane shows recent documents, while the area to the right showcases templates, some of them new. Of course, the thing you'll probably want most – a blank document – is still sitting in an easy-to-spot corner, toward the top of the screen.

    Head on into a blank document and you'll see the Ribbon UI has made room for a new Design tab, which claims to let you make all your design changes in one place. Options include things like fonts, paragraph spacing, themes and adding watermarks to documents. Thankfully, though, Microsoft kept the feature where if you highlight text and then hover over it with your mouse, you'll see some pop-up controls right there, allowing you to change the font color and make other simple tweaks.

    Microsoft Office 2013 Preview (Word)

    Tracking changes

    Of all the new features in Office 2013, this is the one we Engadget editors hold dearest to our hearts. With this version of Office, tracking changes has been tweaked so that unless you're actively reading through changes and comments, all that noise simply shows up as a bunch of red lines. When you're ready to focus on editing, just click the line to expand the thread. And we do mean threads. Now, if you get into a back-and-forth with another editor ("Can we call this phone a Galaxy Note clone?" "No"), those comments will appear in a single conversation that flows alongside the page, in the margins. If you've ever used track changes to collaborate on a document, you know that previously such an inane exchange would mean seeing a separate comment bubble for each person's response, even if they were all addressing the same issue.

    And control freaks, rejoice: you can now lock tracking, which means someone needs to enter a password to make Word stop tracking changes. The point being, unless that person knows the password, he or she can't make any changes without you knowing.

    Live Layout and adding online video

    It's not like you couldn't previously add online video to an Office document, but it was a pain -- hardly a beginner-level move. Now, Word allows you to insert clips directly from YouTube, Bing Video or any other site, so long as you have the HTML embed code handy. Just click the Insert tab in the Ribbon, then click – you guessed it – "Online Video." Again, if we wanted we could paste in some code from Viddler, Engadget's hosting site, and insert a review video we had already uploaded. For the purposes of this walkthrough, though, we'll pretend we're searching for something on YouTube.

    When you search, the results appear in a small pop-up that obscures the screen
    (not a browser pop-up, but a dialog box within Word). All of the search results appear as small thumbnails, and if you hover over them, you can see the title of the video. Helpfully, you can also see how long a video is, so if you were looking for a music video, say, you might have an easier time weeding out the 50-second ones that obviously aren't complete. You can also preview the video first so that you don't go through the hassle of embedding it only to realize it's not what you wanted.

    Once you insert the video, it's easy to resize it by dragging the corners or sides. There are also little pop-up tabs next to the frame, which you can click to select a layout option (e.g., in line with the text) or do things like cut or copy it. In theory, you can also watch a video from inside Word, without having to open up the browser. It doesn't bode well, though, that the first video we inserted had its permissions set in such a way that we had to visit YouTube if we were going to watch. Unfortunately, there's no way of clarifying that before you insert a video.

    Also, in a new feature called Live Layout, the text will automatically wrap itself around a video, chart or anything else you insert into the text. And that happens in real time, even as you drag the object around. This is what we mean when we talk about Office's solid performance: as impressive as these new features are, they feel remarkably lightweight and nimble.

    Editing PDFs

    For a while now, Word has allowed users to save finished docs as PDF files. But until now, doing the opposite -- editing a PDF -- has required additional software, much of it not free. Here, though, when you open a PDF you can edit it as you would a Word document, and then you can either save it as such, or save it as another PDF file. We had no problem taking a PDF email attachment, typing in additional material, saving it as a PDF and then viewing it in Windows Reader. Okay, depending on who you are this might not be the most exciting new features in Office 2013, but it is certainly one of the most useful.

    Reading mode

    Now here's a feature Microsoft might not have bothered to include if it didn't imagine people using Office on tablets. The company's added a new reading mode -- a full-screen, read-only view that mimics the experience of reading an e-book on a tablet. To enter it, just go to the View tab in the Ribbon and find "Read Mode" all the way on the left. (Psst: This works in PowerPoint, too.)

    Once you're in, the document takes up the whole screen, save for the Windows taskbar at the bottom. Like an e-book -- but very much unlike a Word document -- the pages scroll from side to side by default, instead of top-to-bottom. (If you like, you can switch to a so-called page view with vertical scrolling.) All told, it's very intuitive to find your way around: there are onscreen left and right arrows, which you can click, but you can also just swipe the screen to advance to the next page. You can also adjust the color of the text: it's black-on-white by default, but you can also choose white-on-black or a sepia theme.

    Lastly, when you're in reading mode, there's a separate feature called Object Zoom, which allows you to expand a photo or table within the text by double clicking or tapping it. Like any good e-reader app, you can also search for specific words in the text, or perform a search (in this case, with Bing).

    Onscreen keyboard

    Sticking with this tablet theme for a moment, Microsoft built in the same well-spaced touchscreen keyboard you'll find in Windows 8. We especially appreciate that the apostrophe is to the right of the "L" key, as it is on a physical keyboard. There's also a visible Ctrl key so that you can press Ctrl + S to save your work. Lastly, we had a good experience with the predictive spelling, which presents suggestions in the form of small, unobtrusive pop-ups.


    Flash Fill

    We can remember a time when Sparklines, those charts-within-cells, were the marquee new feature for Excel. This year, though, you'll notice that many of the major new additions don't necessarily aim to jazz up spreadsheets so much as take the tedium out of the number-crunching. Exhibit A: Flash Fill. It's a feature that recognizes your data patterns to the point where it should be able to predict what belongs in the remaining blank cells and fill them in for you. For example, if you were to make a spreadsheet detailing on what days different departments were using the main conference room, Excel would eventually pick up on the fact that every marketing executive has a meeting there Tuesday, while the publicity people are due there on Thursday.

    In theory, you just have to enter some of that data and then go to the Data tab, where you press the Flash Fill button to make it fill in the rest. For instance, in a demo spreadsheet provided by Microsoft, one column shows a list of company email addresses, each of which follow the format "firstname.lastname." After typing two first names in the blank "First name" column, Excel filled in the rest. Ditto when we added a column for last names.

    In our own testing, we enjoyed similar success, but discovered that Flash Fill doesn't make sense of all data -- for example, it doesn't recognize "yes" and "no" as values. So, there might well be times when Excel won't be able to survey your data set and pick up on the patterns within.

    Microsoft Office 2013 Preview (Excel)

    Suggestions for visuals

    Fortunately, Excel includes some new features that prove to be a little more intelligent than Flash Fill. These include recommendations for so-called PivotTables as well as charts. Using the data we just talked about (employees, their departments and their health insurance status) the Recommended PivotTable feature (located under the Insert tab) came up with a few logical options: employee count by department, and a count of insured versus uninsured workers. Sounds right to us. Likewise, the Recommended Charts feature (also in the Insert section) offered up the same ideas, only represented in pretty bar graph form.

    Timeline Slicer
    A new addition to Office's collection of so-called Slicers, Timeline allows you to filter data by certain time periods (think: sales data for 2011).

    Quick Analysis

    Though the name would suggest otherwise, this feature isn't so much a shortcut for making sense of your data as it is a way to preview different visuals. As you can see in that screenshot above, once you click on the corresponding Quick Analysis icon you'll see various formatting options, and as you hover over them you'll see the document change accordingly, giving you a glimpse of what you'll see if you end up selecting that option.


    Presenter View

    So no fancy new charts in Excel, but lots of ways to make sifting through your data a little more efficient. It's a similar story with PowerPoint: even more than animated transitions, Microsoft is focusing on behind-the-scenes features designed to take some of the anxiety out of presentations. For starters, when you plug in a projector, Windows will automatically extend your desktop onto that larger screen so that you don't have to fiddle with the setup in front of your audience.

    Once you're plugged in and ready to start your talk, you'll have the option of using a new presenter view, visible only on the screen you're using (press Alt + F5 to bring it up). Not unlike the presenter screen in Apple's Keynote software, this shows you the time elapsed, as well as any notes you may have written yourself. You can also enlarge text, teleprompter-style and pinch the slider to see the full slide deck -- very similar to how you can pinch to get a bird's eye view of your Windows 8 Start screen. The idea, says Microsoft, is to be able to nimbly skip forward a few slides if someone in the audience asks a question about some topic you haven't gotten to yet. If you do rearrange the slide, it won't be visible to the audience on the big screen. None of the behind-the-scenes stuff will be.

    Microsoft Office 2013 Preview (PowerPoint)

    As ever, you can also scribble, or "ink," on slides using either a pen or your finger. (You'll have to tap an icon first to enable this.) You'll see this as an option under the Review tab when you're marking up slides, but you can also do it during your presentation, from the Presenter View screen.


    The rest of the new PowerPoint features are a motley bunch. You can merge shapes to create custom ones. In addition to using an eyedropper to select colors, you can also match a color to an accompanying photo. Music playback has also been improved so that you can now play a track in the background across multiple slides or the whole presentation. Additionally, Microsoft has expanded its list of supported media file types to include .MP4 files, meaning you can export to .MP4 as well as play such files natively without having to install QuickTime.


    Look and feel

    In its current incarnation, Outlook still looks like, well, Outlook, but you'll notice that many of the options aren't immediately visible. Much like there's no fixed Start button in Windows 8, the flags in Outlook only appear if you hover next to a message with your mouse. Also new with this version: a weather bar stretching across the top of your calendar. You can manually change the location, but by default, Office shows only one set of weather forecasts at a time. Another, more miscellaneous change: if you've begun to respond to an email, but saved it as a draft, the word "Draft" will appear in red in your inbox, next to the message (yes, just like Gmail).

    With this version, the company is also introducing fly-over menus called Peeks, which show things like calendar appointments, to-do items and information about your contacts. To find these, look for the icons stacked on top of each other in the lower left corner of the screen. Mouse over the calendar icon, for instance, and you'll see a live, pop-up window that allows you to glance at your agenda without having to toggle between tabs to check your schedule. If you're wide open, you'll see a message saying you have no appointments; if you are booked, it'll tell you when.

    Microsoft Office 2013 Preview (Outlook)

    Social connectors

    Continuing this theme of showing as much information in one place as possible (without you having to click to a different screen): if you're reading an email from someone, you can click an arrow at the bottom of the screen to pull up the People Pane. While this pane isn't new (you could previously see your meetings with that person and also your email history), you can now glance at that person's social networking goings-on. For now, Outlook natively integrates with Facebook and LinkedIn, but not Twitter, for whatever reason. (There is, however, an API that makes this possible.)

    As we quickly learned, this feature is worthwhile mainly if you're on Facebook and also friends with the people you're conversing with. Obviously, you won't see updates from a business associate you aren't connected to on Facebook. At the same time, the LinkedIn integration is fairly useless unless someone is super active on that site; you'll only see recent activity, and even then, the tidbits tend to be uninteresting. After all, do you really need to know if someone just added someone else to their network? Really, Twitter integration would make this new feature so much more valuable: people are nosy enough to care about other people's tweets and fortunately, most of us don't bother to lock our accounts.

    SharePoint integration

    In news that will matter most to the IT guys reading this, Microsoft has improved the integration between Outlook and SharePoint so that SharePoint groups now have their own mailboxes. From here, you see documents stored on SharePoint without leaving Outlook. (To edit them, of course, you'll need to open the corresponding Office app.) We also appreciate that the reverse is also possible: you can drag and drop attachments into the docs folder for SharePoint and they'll upload to your team's site.


    The biggest news here is that OneNote, that receptacle for random thoughts and musings, will be available as a standalone, Metro-styled Windows 8 app. Though we caught a glimpse of it in an advance meeting with Microsoft, it wasn't available for testing during our preview period, so our impressions are more limited here. Rounding out the list, OneNote is also getting a full-screen view, auto-save, improved table tools, enhanced scribbling (nay, inking) functionality, integration with Outlook calendars, more efficient search and the ability to record audio alongside notes.

    Microsoft Office 2013 Preview (OneNote)

    Business apps

    Since most of our readers aren't suit-wearing business travelers so much as exceptionally well-informed consumers, we're not going to delve into the new enterprise-grade features in nearly as much detail as Word, Outlook and other core apps. If corporate software rings your bell, though, we've got a quick rundown below of what's new:

    • Lync: Microsoft's messaging and video chatting client can now show up to five video streams simultaneously (previously, it could only handle multiple voices at once). By default, the active speaker will be promoted to the top. If more than five people are speaking, you can set Lync to prioritize whose video stream is being shown (those not featured will have photo thumbnails instead of a video stream). If you like, of course, you can also cherry pick whose video you're seeing.
    • Publisher: With Publisher, you can now import all your pictures to a single canvas, making it easy to experiment with possible images. Microsoft has also added text, shape and picture effects; a Mailings tab in the Ribbon; and the ability to use your own photos as page backgrounds. As with other apps we've talked about, you can share a URL with people where they can view your work in the browser. The new feature for easily adding photos from online sources applies here, too.
    • Visio: Office's standalone diagram creator gets updated shapes, as well as easier workflows for creating organizational charts and tweaking diagrams. Microsoft has also revised the app so that if you change shapes, you won't affect the entire diagram layout you've been working on.

    Versions and subscription plans

    Microsoft has outlined the different forms Office will take. There will, of course, be the web-based service Office 365 along with the desktop Office 2013 suite. Additionally, Office will be available on ARM-based tablets running Windows RT -- albeit, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote only. Finally, enterprises can purchase a server-specific version capable of hosting Exchange, SharePoint, Project and Lync. In cases such as those, businesses can choose cloud hosting, local servers or a combination of the two.

    Office Home & Student 2013: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote - $169
    Office Home & Business 2013: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook - $299
    Office Professional 2013: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access - $599
    Individual Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access - $149 each; OneNote - $89

    Oh, and if you're wondering about Office for Mac, that will be available too, but Microsoft isn't ready to give the public a preview just yet.

    All told, here are the specific products Microsoft is previewing right now:

    • Office 365 Home Premium: Can be installed on up to five devices; users get an extra 20GB of SkyDrive storage; Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher are included.
    • Office 365 Small Business Preview: Can be issued to up to 10 users, with five installations each; adds "professional mail, shared documents and HD videoconferencing."
    • Office 365 ProPlus Preview: Can be issued to up to 25 users, with five installations each; includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath and Lync.
    • Office 365 Enterprise Preview: In addition to the above applications, this version includes SharePoint online and Lync Online.


    Sometimes it's the little things, like saving documents to SkyDrive, that charm us most. Even more than any actual feature in Office 2013, what left us most enchanted during our testing period was the moment we powered down our Series 7 tablet, turned it back on, launched Word and found the cursor exactly where we left it. The best thing about Office is not what it does better than Office 2010, but how much more nimble it is in following you from device to device, from shut-down to start-up again. Beyond that, no one single feature of Office 2013 is dazzling, per se, but it doesn't matter: everything here, from YouTube embeds to the chart generator in Excel, works as promised and is intuitive to use. At the same time, the interface doesn't mark a radical departure from previous versions, so even casual users with no use for PivotTables should be able to find their way around.

    The one caveat we feel compelled to offer is that although Office 2013 has been updated to keep pace with Windows 8, this is not some sort of magic bullet that will suddenly make Office a pleasure to use on tablet devices: while reading mode is fantastic and touch mode is a step in the right direction, we still wouldn't want to work with spreadsheets without the help of a mouse. That disclaimer aside, we've found very few faults with Office 2013 -- it's fast, polished and painless to use.

    source: Office Preview download link


    MS Office 2013 Upgrade: 4 Points to Consider

    Microsoft Office 2013 offers some compelling new features, especially for mobile users. But how will buyers respond to the new version's license shake-up and cloud emphasis?

    Michael Endler - January 29, 2013

    As expected, Microsoft on Tuesday announced the general availability of both its updated Microsoft Office suite and its Office 365 subscription service. Office 2013 applications have been available to certain IT professionals, businesses and developers for months, but the new release marks the purchase opportunity for those outside these select circles.

    Does the newest iteration of Redmond's flagship software merit an upgrade? InformationWeek breaks down four key points to consider:

    1. Microsoft really wants users to sign up for a subscription

    Though consumers can still purchase standalone versions of Office products, Microsoft is aggressively pushing its Office 365 subscription services. For those who prefer the former, the new pricing model offers relatively restricted packages and higher initial costs. For those open to the latter, it boasts immediate access to the newest releases, more flexibility and -- depending on the number of devices running the software -- lower prices. This departure from earlier licensing structures is likely to be one of the most discussed aspects of the new suite, as it remains to be seen whether buyers will view it as a welcome incentive, an annoyance or a strong-arm tactic.

    Available only to eligible students and educators, Office 365 University offers the lowest entry cost, at $79.99 for a four-year subscription that permits the full fleet of products to be run on up to two PCs. Microsoft's consumer-oriented Office 365 Home Premium, meanwhile, will set buyers back $99.99 per year. Like the education license, Home Premium provides access to the most up-to-date versions of all Office apps, but it allows installation on up to five machines. Both subscription packages offer on-demand services, 20 GB of additional SkyDrive storage and 60 monthly minutes of Skype international calling.

    At $139.99, Office Home and Student 2013, the base standalone suite, includes only Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Office Home and Business 2013 adds Outlook to the package for $219.99. At $399.99, Office Professional 2013 completes the offering with Publisher and Access. The standalone products permit the applications to be used on only one machine and do not include on-demand options, Skype incentives or extra SkyDrive space.

    SMB and Enterprise-oriented Office 365 products that include Lync and InfoPath are expected to become available in late February.

    2. SkyDrive could attract Google Doc users

    As mentioned above, Microsoft is pushing its 365 options with not only installation flexibility and lower entry costs but also expanded SkyDrive resources. Despite lacking Word's full functionality, Google Docs has slowly muscled into the word processing and spreadsheet games -- and the SkyDrive emphasis can be at least partly seen as an effort to curb this momentum. Mobile workers and others who collaborate remotely might appreciate the effort, as SkyDrive allows not only storage but also for a document to be simultaneously edited by people in different locations. It also syncs document updates to other licensed devices.

    For users who are leery of the cloud, it also provides data security reassurances. If Internet connectivity is lost while a user works on a SkyDrive-stored document, Office 2013 will locally save a temporary copy and automatically sync it to the cloud later.

    3. Office 365 is a step toward full-featured mobile document creation

    Like SkyDrive, Office 365's on-demand feature is a nod toward mobile workers. With it, users can spin up a temporary copy of any Office application simply by signing into office.com. The service is available even on unlicensed machines -- handy for times when a user might otherwise need to borrow a friend's laptop to quickly complete an important task. The on-demand feature includes access to the user's SkyDrive repository.

    Other mobile-oriented features include touch-based functions aimed at tablet and Ultrabook users. Anyone holding their breath for an Android- or iOS-compatible version, though, will have to keep waiting to exhale.

    4. From social media to better charts, Office 2013 has a lot of new features

    Many of the Microsoft Office applications are highly mature, polished products. Indeed, many offices still get the job done with decade-old copies of Word running on some antiquated version of Windows. Consequently, Office 2013's enhancements might strike some users as less than essential. For others, though, the new suite offers several compelling upgrades.

    Standouts include Word 2013's PDF import function and a reader mode designed to make reviewing a document on a tablet more like reading from a printout. Outlook 2013 boasts improved IMAP support while allowing users to transmit Facebook and Twitter content in addition to regular emails. Upgrades to Excel include Flash Fill, which tries to auto-populate cells by looking for patterns in the user's completed work, and a variety of tools designed to more easily create charts and tables.


    Not ready for Office 2013? Here are five open alternatives

    Katherine Noyes - Jan 29, 2013

    Between Microsoft's October launch of Windows 8 and Tuesday's rollout of Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365, there's no denying that it's been a decision-filled few months for PC users. It seems safe to say that Windows 8 has not been received as enthusiastically as Microsoft might have liked, but Office is of course a whole different ballgame, as they say.

    With numerous components and pricing plans, this cross-platform entry is surely Redmond's broadest-reaching office product to date.

    Time will tell how well it does, but meanwhile there are plenty of alternatives for those who remain unconvinced. Here's a small sampling of what's available from the world of free and open source software.

    1. LibreOffice

    Certainly the leading office productivity suite on the open source side is LibreOffice. In the two or so years since it was forked from OpenOffice, it's become the suite most commonly included by the top Linux distributions. With six feature-rich applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, the software had already been downloaded some 20 million times by last fall. It's available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    2. Apache OpenOffice

    Then, too, there's Apache OpenOffice, now under the purview of the Apache Software Foundation. OpenOffice is what LibreOffice is based on, so the two share many similarities; development work seems to be progressing more quickly on the latter, however. Not to be confused with the German variation now known as White Label Office, this suite is available as a free download at the project site.

    3. Calligra Suite

    Stepping a bit closer to Microsoft's new suite in terms of cross-platform compatibility is Calligra Suite, a graphics and office suite created by the KDE project from KOffice in 2010. With versions for desktop PCs, tablets, and smartphones, this package includes eight components spanning word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, vector graphics, and more. It can be downloaded for free for Linux, FreeBSD, OS X, and Windows.

    4. OxygenOffice Professional

    OxygenOffice Professional, meanwhile, is an enhanced version of OpenOffice that comes with extra goodies including templates, clip art, samples, fonts, and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) support. Now in version 3.2.1, this free software can be downloaded for 32-bit Windows as well as 32- and 64-bit Linux.

    5. Feng Office Community Edition

    Finally, there's Feng Office Community Edition, a free and open source online project management and collaboration tool formerly known as OpenGoo that offers task management, document management, project management, time tracking, knowledge management, and more. Users of the software can create and edit text documents and presentations online; they can also upload, organize, and share files. The free software can be downloaded online; paid professional versions are also available starting at $59 per month.


    Note: LibreOffice and Calligra Suite seem to be the best options from the rest
    Attached Files

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    Interesting invention for those who have old lectures and favorite recordings of some sort to back up.


  16. #16
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    How to Disable Avast's Annoying Sounds and Popups

    First: Use Avast's Custom Installation

    Let's start at the beginning: When you first install Avast, we highly recommend choosing the "Custom Installation" option, as we do with all programs. This ensures you only get the features and add-ons you want, and none of the stuff you don't.
    By default, Avast's custom installation comes with a lot of things checked. Most of them shouldn't bug you too much, but we recommend unchecking anything you don't think you'll use. For me, that means unchecking the Software Updater, Remote Assistance, SecureLine, and GrimeFighter features. I already have other software updaters, remote access, VPN, andcleanup tools installed that I prefer. I usually leave the browser features enabled (though I don't use them much) and the rescue disk tool in case I need it.

    If you want, you can read more about what these features do on Avast's web site. Unchecking the ones you don't want may stop some notifications related to these features—like the software updater—and will tidy up the Avast interface, to boot.Turn Off Avast's Sounds

    When you get a virus, it's nice to have an audible notification to let you know—but I don't need the soothing voice of Lady Avast telling me every time my virus definitions have been updated (even if I can make the voice sound like a pirate).To mute Avast's voice notifications (recommended): Head to Settings > Appearance > Sounds and uncheck the "Use Voiceover Sounds" box. All notification sounds will just have the familiar "ding" instead of a spoken notification.To mute certain notifications: Head to Settings > Appearance > Sounds and uncheck the boxes for any notifications you'd like to mute. This will stop that particular notification from making any sound. Generally, I prefer to leave this on for completed scans and found viruses.To mute all sounds: Head to Settings > Appearance > Sounds and uncheck "Enable Avast Sounds."Turn Off Update Notifications and Ad Popups

    Avast's other main annoyance is its constant notifications. Once again, I appreciate notifications if I've gotten a virus, but I don't really need a popup every time it updates virus definitions, or every time it wants me to upgrade to Avast premium. Luckily, this is easily fixed with one checkbox.To turn off ads and update notifications (recommended): Head to Settings > Update > Details and uncheck the "Show Notification Box After Automatic Update" box. This one box disables both update notifications and ads. We wish there were two separate options (for those that wanted notifications about virus definition updates), but we'll take what we can get. After unchecking this one box, I've found that Avast behaves better than ever.To turn off all notifications: Head to Settings > General and turning on Gaming Mode. I generally don't like this because I prefer to get notifications when I have a virus or potentially unwanted program detected.To change the duration of notifications: Head to Settings > Appearance > Popups. Each notification type has a number, in seconds, that it'll appear on your screen. You can tweak this to your liking (setting it to 0 gives it unlimited duration).Other Features You May Want to Tweak

    Those are the big ones, but while you're making a trip through the settings, there are a few other settings we recommend at least looking at:
    • Community Features: If you uncheck both bodes under Settings > Appearance > Community features, it will remove the Store tab from the home screen, and possibly some other similar settings.
    • Avast! Community (not to be confused with the above): In Settings > General, you may or may not want to uncheck "Participate in the Avast! Community" if you prefer Avast not collect anonymous data.
    • Software Updater Notifications: If you do use the Software Updater feature, but want to turn off the sounds, these are managed by a separate checkbox in Settings > Tools > Software Updater.
    • Chrome as Default Browser: Avast, by default, uses Chrome as its default browser for any links clicked in its interface. To turn this off, just head to Settings > Troubleshooting > Do Not Use Chrome as Avast! Default Browser.

    These are generally less annoying than the main sound and popup features, but they're worth looking at while you're digging around the settings.
    This isn't an exhaustive list of every setting in Avast, just the ones we recommend tweaking as soon as you install it (based on the ones people complain about most). Avast has a lot of other features and settings that are pretty handy, so as with most programs, we recommend giving yourself a little tour of everything it has to offer when you first install it. Hopefully this guide at least makes it a little less annoying. Of course, if you prefer to try another program altogether, there are some great alternatives in our App Directory.


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    How to install Windows 7 on a PC with USB 3.0 ports

    If you try to install windows 7 on the new computers with SUB 3.0 ports then you will run into some issues. The issues occur because you are trying to install windows 7 which comes only with USB 2.0 drivers and you have USB 3.0 ports on your pc also. While your keyboard and mouse will work in BIOS, they will stop responding once Windows 7 Setup starts.

    If you try to install windows 7, you will be given this prompt in the beginning of the process:

    If you google “How to Fix “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing” Occurred in Windows 7 Install “, you will find many results on forums and youtube to resolve this dilemma. I even called up Dell support for help and they were just as clueless as the end users.

    For some, the issue was resolved with the given tips they found from other users. However, that did not work for many others. If you have USB 2.0 ports on your pc then these tips may work for you so long as you use only those ports and not the USB 3.0 ports, be it for your thumb drive or mouse/keyboard plug in.

    This is what some of the websites offered and it worked for some.


    But a more permanent solution is to add the USB 3.0 drivers to the windows 7 install disc. This tutorial will show you how to do that. There are other similar tutorials out there but not all of them are correct or have proper sequence of steps or detailed outline. So I created this as a simple step by step guide.

    How to add USB 3.0 drivers to Windows 7 boot file

    what i'm saying below is very similar to what is posted here:


    Step 1: Set up folders

    1. Create a folder on your desktop named 'Drivers'.
    2. Create two folders inside of the 'Drivers' folder, named 'mount' and 'USB'.

    Step 2. Download the USB Drivers

    These you can get from intel website and by going to the link below and search for usb 3.0 drivers for windows 7


    Step 3. Extract the drivers in the USB folder

    It is best to just cut them out of the install media, but if you want to have a backup copy you can copy and paste.

    For this you will need to get your windows 7 disc or image file. In that folder, go into the folder called sources

    Copy the following files from there into the Drivers folder:


    Next steps are done using the command prompt.

    Windows 7: Start, type in cmd, right click on the icon and choose Run as Administrator
    Windows 8: Windows Key + Q : Move mouse to top right corner and search, type in Command Prompt, Right click and Run as Administrator.

    Next, you will need to change the directory path so that it isn't pointing to the default of C:\Windows\System32.

    Type in: cd C:\Users\%currentuser%\Desktop\Drivers - Then press Enter.

    *Note: Make sure to change the %currentuser% to that of the user profile where the 'Drivers' folder was saved.

    5. Update the ‘boot.wim’ file.

    The index in the command lines refers to the version of your copy of windows 7

    Issue the following command to determine what your version is:

    dism /Get-WimInfo /WimFile:install.wim

    In the cmd line now displaying the right directory, type in these commands pressing enter after each one. Make sure your file path is correct.

    dism.exe /Mount-WIM /WimFile:"D:\usb\install.wim" /index:3 /MountDir:"D:\usb\MOUNT"
    dism.exe /image:"D:\usb\MOUNT" /Add-Driver /driver:"D:\usb\USB3\x64" /ForceUnsigned /recurse
    dism.exe /Unmount-wim /mountdir:"D:\usb\MOUNT" /commit

    dism.exe /Mount-WIM /WimFile:"D:\usb\boot.wim" /index:1 /MountDir:"D:\usb\MOUNT"
    dism.exe /image:"D:\usb\MOUNT" /Add-Driver /driver:"D:\usb\USB3\x64" /ForceUnsigned /recurse
    dism.exe /Unmount-wim /mountdir:"D:\usb\MOUNT" /commit

    dism.exe /Mount-WIM /WimFile:"D:\usb\boot.wim" /index:2 /MountDir:"D:\usb\MOUNT"
    dism.exe /image:"D:\usb\MOUNT" /Add-Driver /driver:"D:\usb\USB3\x64" /ForceUnsigned /recurse
    dism.exe /Unmount-wim /mountdir:"D:\usb\MOUNT" /commit

    6. Cut/Paste or Copy/Paste your new 'boot.wim' and 'install.wim' files

    Depending on if you copied or cut the files out, put them back the same way.
    Attached Files

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    A Guide To Understanding Android App Permissions (& How To Manage Them)

    Apps dominate our usage of smartphones and while Apple’s App Store has stringent criteria for apps to get in, Google’s Play Store is relatively more lenient. As an Android app user, you should be aware of the type of data the apps you use are taking from you.

    On top of that, you will need to start reading up on the “permission slips” you have been giving apps that you download to your phone, or risk opening yourself up to major privacy and security issues.

    In this guide, we will be highlighting some of the app permissions you need to pay more attention to, and which are valid permissions that apps are obligated to ask for.

    With a bit of vigilance, it’s entirely possible to minimize risks by learning how to better manage your app permissions (and to revoke them if necessary). Here’s a look into Android app permissions and what to do about them.

    What Are App Permissions?

    First things first, Android app permissions aren’t requests, they’re declarations. Unless you’re rooted, you have no say – short of choosing to not install the app – in whether the app will receive all the permissions it requires.

    When you install an app from the Play Store, you’ll get a pop up listing all the permissions that the app requires, things like access to your storage, phone calls, network communciation etc. Read through this list.

    It’s all too easy to treat the permissions list like an EULA (which nobody ever reads) but skipping over these permissions could mean the difference between having your data securely on your device or having all of it at the fingertips of unscrupulous app developers.

    5 Permissions You Should Be Wary Of

    There are a few permissions that you should be wary of, not because they’re necessarily dangerous, but because there could be wide-ranging repercussions if data from these permissions were to fall into the wrong hands. Note that these aren’t the only permissions you should worry about – it’s a start.

    If you want to know more, check out the list and discussion of Android app permissions by AndroidForums.com user Alostpacket. There’s also a detailed list of permissions on the official Android Developers page. Most of the recapped information here comes from both resources.
    1. Location

    There are two types of location permissions that Android applications can require: “approximate location (network-based)” and “precise location (GPS and network-based)”.

    What would apps need my precise location for? Well, navigation apps like Waze will require such information to work. Similarly social media applications want to include your location in photos and uploads. Crucially, applications which implement location-based advertising will also need access to such information. It’s just one of the many sacrifices you have to make when using a free, ad-supported app.

    2. Phone Status And Identity

    This is a bit of a problematic permission, because “read phone status and identity” encompasses everything from something as innocuous as needing to know when a phone call is coming in, to having access to crucially important data such as your device’s IMEI number.

    While this permission is often safe, the potential for wrongdoing is huge, so do exercise caution when apps require this permission. If there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for the app to require this permission, it might be a good thing to think twice before installing it.

    3. Read And Modify Your Contacts

    These permission to “Modify your contacts, read your contacts” gives an app unfettered access to your contacts’ data. While both can be problematic, the “modify” permission is especially dangerous since it would let an app read all the contact information you have on your phone. This includes how often you communicate with particular contacts.

    SMS apps, contact management apps, dialer replacement apps and even some social media apps will need one or both of these applications, but apps without any social aspect to them have on reason to require this.

    4. SMS And MMS-Related Permissions

    These permissions could potentially cost you a lot of money, if malicious apps use these permissions to send illegitimate SMSes or tack on extra charges onto each SMS and MMS you send.

    The “read your text messages” and “receive text messages permissions” can also potentially result in your privacy being compromised. If there’s no real reason for an app to require these permissions, avoid it.

    However, there are perfectly valid reasons an app would require these permissions, especially if it’s an SMS app. Again, a bit of reasoning should save you from having to deal with any issues related to this permission.
    5. Account-Related Permissions

    “Find accounts on the device” lets the app check with Android’s built in Account Manager on whether you have any accounts on services such as Google, Facebook and so on.

    Use accounts on the device” lets the app ask for permission to use the account. Once this permission is granted, the app won’t have to request it again; the concern, of course, comes if the app is malicious and continues to do things in the background in your name.

    Another related permission to watch out for is “create accounts and set passwords”, which lets the app authenticate credentials. A malicious app can take advantage of this permission to get your password by phishing you.

    Ways To Stay Safe

    There are a few things you can do to stay on top of app security.

    1. The best way to stay safe is not to immediately avoid any apps that require problematic permissions but instead, to look at the app itself and use reasoning to figure out whether the app really requires these permissions.

    2. You can also send an email to the developer asking about the permissions. If the reply isn’t satisfactory, or if you don’t get a reply at all, then you should most probably give the app a miss.

    3. You should also take advantage of the huge Android community if you’re unsure about the security of a particular app. Read reviews on the Play Store and check forums and Android-centric news sites to see if there have been any complaints about the app recently. It’s a bit of work, sure, but better be safe than sorry.

    Managing App Permissions

    If you’ve let apps have access to any of your accounts such as Facebook or Google, it’d be a good idea to go to your account settings and manage your account permissions, if the website has such a feature.

    You can also check what permissions certain apps have by going into Settings > Apps. Just select an app and scroll down to see the permissions it has.

    Permissions Manager Apps

    You can also use an app such as Permission Explorer, which lets you filter by categories, apps and permissions, and can give you a much more detailed breakdown of the permissions granted to the app. Other similar apps you can try are Permissions Observatory and App Permissions.

    Regardless of the app you choose, spending some time going through the permissions of apps currently installed on your Android device should help you establish whether there are any apps with problematic permissions that need to be revoked or perhaps even uninstalled entirely.

    Revoking App Permissions

    Once you’ve found some offending apps, it’s time to decide on a course of action. There’s currently no built-in way to manage app permissions in the latest version of Android, since Google chose to remove the AppOps feature from Android 4.4.2.

    However, if you’re still running Android 4.3, it wouldn’t hurt to give AppOps a go to see if it helps you access the built-in permissions manager.

    If you’re running stock, unrooted 4.4.2 (or a version prior to 4.3), you’re pretty much out of luck when it comes to revoking app permissions short of completely uninstalling the application. However, if you are rooted, then you have a few more options.

    Permissions Manager Apps (Rooted)

    If you have the Xposed Framework installed, you can give XPrivacy a go. XPrivacy is one of the best permissions manager applications available, letting you tweak, block and revoke almost every permission an app might require. You can also use the XPrivacy Installer to help you install both Xposed Framework and XPrivacy itself.

    If you’re willing to install a completely new ROM, or plan to do so anyway, there are also certain custom ROMs that come with permission management features built-in.

    The popular CyanogenMod has a Privacy Guard feature which, as of last year, comes with Android 4.3’s AppOps integrated into it. Other ROMs such as Purity ROM also have a similar feature.


    It’s hard to deny that, by default at least, Android’s privacy and security settings are a bit lacking. Between occasionally confusing permission names, to an inability to selectively grant permissions, this is definitely something that Android should work on.

    However, even with these issues, it’s still entirely possible to stay on top of things and ensure the security of your data by being vigilant about the apps you install and the permissions that these apps require. After all, it’s your data on your phone – you have control.


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    Sleep and Technology Don't Mix: Why You Need to Set an Electronic Curfew

    By Dr. Mercola - June 26, 2014

    About 95 percent of Americans use an electronic device within one hour of going to sleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. Furthermore, nearly all adults (89 percent) and the majority of children (75 percent) have at least one electronic device, such as a television, tablet, or smartphone, in their bedrooms.

    This has a major implication on the quality of your sleep, in ways you might not even imagine. Certainly, such devices can keep you awake by making noises, but they also interfere with your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, in far more insidious, and damaging, ways.

    Light from Electronic Gadgets Interferes with Your Sleep

    The quality of your sleep has a lot to do with light, both outdoor and indoor lighting, because it serves as the major synchronizer of your master clock. This master clock is a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN).

    As a group, these nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters your eye. You also have other biological clocks throughout your body, and those clocks subsequently synchronize to your master clock.

    In the non-artificial light environment of our historical past, people experienced greater light exposure only during the day between when the sun rose and when it set. Now with the advent of the light bulb, artificial light, high-definition televisions, and any number of lighted electronic gadgets, we're exposed to a lot more light over a 24-hour period, and a lot less darkness.

    This creates a very novel situation for your internal time keeping and the biological pace setting mechanisms of your body; in other words, your circadian rhythms. As reported by the National Sleep Foundation:

    "There is robust scientific data documenting the role of light in promoting wakefulness. Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, signaling our brain about the status of the outside world and aligning our circadian rhythms (centered in a small region of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus) to the external day-night cycle.

    This signaling of light and dark helps us to be alert in the morning and be able to fall asleep at the appropriate time at night. The power of light as an alerting agent is easily conceptualized when we think of the sun, but may be more difficult to appreciate when considering the light emitted from a tablet or smartphone."

    Even the Small Amount of Light Emitted by Your Smartphone Can Keep You Awake

    Normally, your brain starts progressively increasing the hormone melatonin around 9 pm or 10 pm, which makes you sleepy. This helps regulate your sleep cycle as well as provide other important health benefits, including helping to prevent cancer.

    Melatonin acts as a marker of your circadian phase or biological timing. In a nutshell, this hormone influences what time of day or night your body thinks it is, regardless of what time the clock on the wall displays.

    Somewhere between 50-1,000 lux is the activation range within which light will begin to suppress melatonin production. However, wavelength is important here as red and amber lights will not suppress melatonin while blue, green, and white lights will. So if you use a clock in your bedroom, make sure it has red LEDs.

    Melatonin is a regulator of your sleep cycle, and when it is suppressed, there is less stimulation to promote sleepiness at a healthy bedtime. This contributes to people staying up later and missing valuable sleep, as well as missing out on melatonin's health potential (research indicates it also helps protect your brain health and fights against cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, heart disease, and more).

    Whether you have the light on for an hour or for just a second, the effect is the same. It would be nice if your melatonin production resumed when you flip the light back off, but unfortunately, it doesn't. So remember, when you turn the light on at night, you are seriously short changing your melatonin production. Not to obsess about it, but certainly don't make it a regular pattern.

    One 2011 study compared daily melatonin profiles in individuals living in room light (<200 lux) vs. dim light (<3 lux). Results showed that, compared with dim light, exposure to room light before bedtime suppressed melatonin in 99 percent of individuals, and shortened the time period when the body has an elevated melatonin level by about 90 minutes.

    Furthermore, exposure to room light during the usual hours of sleep suppressed melatonin by more than 50 percent. Even the light from your computer screen or smartphone is enough to interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin production. Computer screens and most light bulbs emit blue light, to which your eyes are particularly sensitive simply because it's the type of light most common outdoors during daytime hours. As a result, they can easily disrupt your melatonin production and keep you awake. Research shows, for instance:

    • Children who use electronic media at night go to bed later, get fewer hours of sleep per week, and report more daytime sleepiness

    • Adolescents with a television in their bedroom go to bed later, have more difficulty falling asleep, and have a shorter total sleep time

    • Sending texts or e-mails after initially going to bed increases daytime sleepiness among teens (even if it's done only once a week)

    Computer and Cell Phone Use Before Bed Linked to Insomnia

    The research is quite clear that people who use their computer for playing, surfing, or reading on the Web, or those who use their smartphones for the same purpose, as well as texting, are more likely to report symptoms of insomnia. This is an enemy to your sleep for multiple reasons, in addition to the problems with light exposure explained above. It can be difficult, for instance, to slow your mind down after surfing the Web, leading to racing thoughts when you should be in slumber.

    Plus, when you're connected to the Internet, your phone or computer are communicating with nearby cell towers, which means they're also emitting low levels of radiation.

    One 2008 study revealed that people exposed to radiation from their mobile phones for three hours before bedtime had more trouble falling asleep and staying in a deep sleep. The following infographic, created by BigBrandBeds.co.uk, illustrates how your electronic gadgets wreak havoc on your sleep when used before bedtime.

    info graph on sleep: www.bigbrandbeds.co.uk/blog/268/how-technology-affects-sleep

    People Who Turn Off Their Gadgets Report Excellent Sleep

    According to the 2014 Sleep in America Poll, 53 percent of respondents who turn electronics off while sleeping rate their sleep as excellent, compared to just 27 percent of those who leave their devices on. This is why I recommend avoiding watching TV or using a computer or tablet at least an hour or so before going to bed.

    An alternative, you can try a free computer program called f.lux (see JustGetFlux.com), which alters the color temperature of your computer screen as the day goes on, pulling out the blue wavelengths as it gets late. You can also wear yellow-tinted glasses, which block the blue wavelengths of light.

    Since humans evolved in the glow of firelight, yellow, orange, and red wavelengths don't suppress melatonin production the way white and blue wavelengths do. In fact, the range of light that inhibits melatonin is fairly narrow — 460 to 480 nm. If you want to protect your melatonin, when the sun goes down you would shift to a low-wattage bulb with yellow, orange or red light. Dr. Russel Reiter suggests using a salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb in this color range.

    Remember, You Can't Cheat Sleep

    …at least, not without consequences. You can have the healthiest diet on the planet, doing vegetable juicing and using fermented veggies, be as fit as an Olympic athlete, be emotionally balanced, but if you aren't sleeping well, it is just a matter of time before it will adversely, potentially seriously affect your health. Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit can have serious, far-reaching effects on your health, and once you're deficient, lost sleep can be difficult to "make up."

    For example, interrupted or impaired sleep can:

    • Dramatically weaken your immune system

    • Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions, primarily due to disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggering cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). The hormone also interferes with the new blood supply tumors require for their rapid growth (angiogenesis)

    • Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight

    • Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think clearly the next day. It's also known to decrease your problem solving ability

    Earlier this year, I interviewed Dan Pardi on the topic of how to get restorative, health-promoting sleep. Pardi is a researcher who works with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford University and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. According to Pardi, the following three factors are key to determining how restorative your sleep is:

    Duration—i.e. the number of hours you sleep. Sleep requirements are highly individual, and can change from one day to the next, depending on factors like stress, physical exertion, illness, and pregnancy, just to name a few. But, on average, most people need about eight hours of sleep per night.

    Timing—i.e. the habit of going to bed at approximately the same time each night. Even if the duration of sleep is the same, when the timing of your sleep is shifted, it's not going to be as restorative.

    Intensity—This has to do with the different stages that your brain and body goes through over the course of the night, the sequence of them, and how those stages are linked.

    Some medications will suppress certain phases of sleep, and certain conditions like sleep apnea will lead to fragmented sleep. With these scenarios, even if you're sleeping for an adequate duration and have consistent timing, your sleep will not be as restorative.

    One of the easiest ways to gauge whether you've slept enough is to assess your level of sleepiness the next day. For example, if you had the opportunity, would you be able to take a nap? Do you need caffeine to keep you going? Answering yes to these two questions would indicate you need more and/or better sleep.

    How to Get a Truly Restful Night's Sleep

    Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for all of the details, but to start, consider implementing the following changes. Number one on my list? Turn off your electronic gadgets and keep them out of your bedroom:

    Avoid watching TV or using your computer/smartphone or tablet in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed.

    Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure regularly. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you are in darkness all day long, it can't appreciate the difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.

    Get some sun in the morning
    . Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night.

    Sleep in complete darkness
    , or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your clock radio up at night or get rid of it altogether. Move all electrical devices at least three feet away from your bed. You may want to cover your windows with drapes or blackout shades, or wear an eye mask when you sleep.

    Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb
    if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.

    Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F.
    Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their upstairs bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees F.

    Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime.
    This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.

    Avoid using loud alarm clocks
    . Being jolted awake each morning can be very stressful. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, you might not even need an alarm.

    Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home.


    Website to Calculate Bedtime


    Sleepyti.me will calculate the best times for you to fall asleep so that you don’t wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle.

    sleepyti.me works by counting backwards in sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, but waking up in between cycles wakes you up feeling refreshed and alert.

    lack of sleep also leads to brain fog:

  20. #20
    Member Array
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    How to put your iPad into "Guest User" mode with Guided Access

    This guide is for iOS6 but I'm guessing the layout would be not that different from newer versions. This feature comes in handy if you want to lock down kids access to only one app (Quran memorization, games, learning, etc.)



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