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How to Turn an Old Android Phone Into a Webcam
June 20, 2013
Many of us are now at the point where we're trading in old smartphones for new. The big question is often, what to do with the old one? Possible solutions include leaving it in a drawer; trading it in; downloading maps and creating a dedicated in-car GPS navigator; or turning it into a free webcam. We'll look at some more solutions in the future, but for now, the last of these is a nice option.
How to Password-Protect Your Digital Life
June 6, 2013
It's no longer acceptable to use birthdates, pet names and so on for passwords. These easily guessed words were never secure, but it didn't matter much in the past. Who cared if a black hat got into your email account? So what? However, things are much different today, because our lives are now digitally enveloped. Everything from banking to relationships is now inexorably online.
How to Get Music Onto Your Smartphone
May 31, 2013
One of the advantages of carrying a smartphone is that it's an all-arounder, and one of its killer features is that it can function as a personal media player. It's functionality that an iPod or MP3 player would have provided a few years ago -- and Sony Walkman before that. The principal difference between a smartphone and a classic MP3 player is that the smartphone now includes connectivity.
How to Work at Top Performance From Home
May 16, 2013
It's not ink cartridges, printers and faxes anymore. The cloud and smart devices have changed the home office landscape -- for the better. There are now numerous free apps for instant messaging, video conferencing and cheap calls; plus it's easier than ever to keep coworking teams on the same page. Working from home lets businesses reduce real estate costs while boosting worker productivity.
How to Identify Bogus Banking Emails
May 9, 2013
There are ways to stop spam, but what do you do about bogus email -- that is, email that appears legitimate but isn't? Fake emails are sent by criminals in order to get your money, or to take advantage of your computer's processing power and Internet connection to launch Web-clogging Denial of Service attacks on other networks.
How to Get Breaking News on Twitter
May 2, 2013
News, in particular, breaking news and events, is now easily obtained through Twitter feeds. Here's how to go about building a news feed, and how to follow breaking news events through this new medium. First you'll want to create a News list populated with sources of your choice. Start by accessing Twitter with a Web browser and sign in to your account.
How to Silence Telephone Spammers
April 25, 2013
We've been seeing a gradual reduction of spam in our email in-boxes due to efforts by ISPs and email providers, new laws and education. However, the same isn't true for junk phone calls and text messages. Laws provide some protection from marketing intrusions, and it's possible to thwart much of the legally sanctioned bombardment with a few simple steps.
How to Get Loopy With Vine
April 18, 2013
A flash-in-the pan, or a truly spellbinding new way to share video? Vine is a free Twitter product that is designed to let you share short video, and its popularity is escalating fast. Vine's social video clips are limited to six seconds. They loop. The idea is to be as comedic or creative as possible within the limitations of the medium, and many of the videos are indeed captivating.
How to Do Your Part in Foiling Spammers
April 11, 2013
Due to a concerted effort by ISPs and email providers, new laws and education, we've seen a gradual drop in the amount of spam that appears in our email in-boxes. However, some gets through. Here's a look at the steps you can take to minimize this disruptive, time-wasting intrusion. First, set your email client spam filters by looking for the Settings area within your email program or Web interface.
How to Get Light From Your Backup Battery
April 4, 2013
Over the last few months, we've been building out a solar generator. The project started as a simple, heavy-duty battery with a cigarette lighter adapter. We then added a photovoltaic solar panel with charge controller to the project to provide theoretically endless power for charging phones. The third part of our project is to add light.
How to Run Android Apps on Your Windows or Mac Machine
March 28, 2013
Have you got some favorite smartphone apps? Not convinced by Microsoft's new Windows app selection? Itching to see some Android action on your MacBook Pro? Don't worry, just install an Android emulator on your Windows or Mac machine and run all of the Android apps that you've grown to love. A version is even available for Windows 8 Surface tablets.
How to Close Gaping UPnP Router Security Holes
March 21, 2013
The year 2013 is quickly turning into the year of cyberattack awareness, and a common router protocol is one of the latest security holes that urgently demands your attention. The UPnP, or Universal Plug n Play, protocol is designed to let networked devices find each other easily. The idea is that you should be able to plug a networked device into a router, and the router will easily discover the device.
How to Work Smart in Your New Rented Office 365
March 14, 2013
Microsoft's newest version of its Office product, Office 365 Home Premium, has a number of new features: You can install it on more than one computer; save documents online using tight integration with Microsoft SkyDrive; and store files offline as well as retain cross-device settings and themes via a new sign-in function.
How to Move Into Your New Rented Office 365
March 7, 2013
Office 365 Home Premium, the 2013 Windows 8 version of Microsoft's latest version of its Office product, amusingly remains a suite of applications that run under the Windows desktop -- as in earlier, non-tiled versions of Windows. Although Office installs quick launch tiles, each core element, like Word or Excel, is an application, not a ballyhooed app. Go figure.
Seamlessly Sync Photos Between Android and PC
February 28, 2013
The Last Mile has been the challenge of industries immemorial. What, you say? Well, humor me, and I'll tell you. "Last Mile" -- usually -- refers to the last part of a network, the bit that delivers communications directly into a home. It's often the hardest and most expensive part.
Coming to Grips With Wire
February 21, 2013
If there's one area of complication in any direct-current, hobbyist tech project, it's wire. What gauge of wire should you use? How should you terminate it? How can you join wire on a budget? You'll encounter issues like this in any DC-current application project, whether you're working on audio amplifiers or other after-market automotive accessories, solar equipment or amateur radios.
Add a Solar Panel to Keep Your Backup Battery Topped Up
February 14, 2013
A few weeks ago, I wrote about building a simple, home backup power system for charging phones during extended electricity outages. However, there's a limitation to any battery system, and that is that any battery power supply will eventually become depleted. I reckon to get a theoretical 13 days out of mine. What happens, in a catastrophic event, if grid power isn't restored at the end of 13 days?
How to Fine-Tune Your Privacy Settings for Facebook Graph Search
February 7, 2013
Facebook Graph Search is coming, and now -- before it hits -- is a good time to tweak your Facebook privacy settings. What is it? Graph Search is a new search function within Facebook. It's not yet been officially launched, but it is available in Beta. Graph Search differs substantially from existing Facebook search functions.
Taking the Java Bull by the Horns
January 31, 2013
The United States Department of Homeland Security Computer Emergency Readiness Team has recently been advising computer users to update or switch off Java in browsers. Oracle's Java is a programming language that's used in browser plug-ins. It's used by vendors to make applications function across operating systems.
Set Up Windows 8 to the Beat of a Different Drum
January 17, 2013
Microsoft's latest version of its operating system, Windows 8, has more personalization options than any predecessor. Backgrounds, themes, colors, start screen, apps, picture passwords and more can all be customized. You can choose a new theme by opening the Search charm and typing "personalization." Then click on the Settings tab. Click Change the Theme to enter the control panel's Appearance & Personalization area. Then choose a theme.
Using 2 Monitors in a Windows 8 Environment
January 10, 2013
With screen real estate, as with the dirt version, more is generally better. Like earlier incarnations of the OS, Windows 8 has external monitor functionality that lets you spread out. However, there are Windows 8-specific features that especially benefit from having more screens.
Be Prepared: Build Your Own Backup Battery
December 20, 2012
"Normal connected lifestyle to resume in due course," could have been the tag line recently in New York and New Jersey. If there was one lesson learned from Hurricane Sandy, it was that even the most sophisticated of urban areas can experience an unexpected loss of essential services.
Whip Your Files Into Shape in Windows 8
December 13, 2012
There are three big changes in Windows 8, the latest version of Microsoft's operating system. All three affect how you organize your computer. First, Microsoft replaces its Start menu search box with a new, always accessible Search charm. Second, the Windows Explorer file browser gains ribbon functions like previewing and archiving.
Defy MS' Wacky Omission by Adding a Start Button to Win 8
December 6, 2012
So you just got Windows 8 and you're missing the Start button? No problem, just add one -- for free. If there's one user interface design choice that has caused the most hands-in-the-air bewilderment in the tech industry during 2012, it's got to be the omission of the Start button and Menu in Microsoft's Windows 8 computer operating system.
An All-Occasion Mobile Signal Booster in a Backpack
November 29, 2012
A simple AM radio can keep you abreast of events during a disaster. However, a smartphone is ideal for two-way communications, as well as for news and government messages via text message and social networks like Twitter. I've been using a signal booster kit while backpacking around network-sparse, sunny Southern California.
Finding the Real Deals on Black Friday
November 21, 2012
Take a laptop or smartphone in addition to blankets and chairs if you're looking for a spot in the tent cities springing up outside your local big box store this week. Smartphone-driven on-the-fly research is proving to make it easier this year to find Black Friday deals on TVs, tablets and other merchandise.
No-Sweat Windows 8 Networking
November 15, 2012
Easy sharing and streaming of media and other assets among computers at home or in the workplace is a good reason to get networked. Other benefits include sharing Internet connections. If you've been using email as a method for distributing files among family members or a small business, or are simply taking the Windows 8 plunge, Microsoft has never made it easier.
Tooling Around With Windows 8
November 8, 2012
My first impression of the bargain-basement $39.99 Windows OS upgrade: To all outward appearances, Windows 8 is a vivid, visual, deeply rewarding and aesthetically pleasing skin to the 2009-released Windows 7 PC desktop OS. Big deal, you might say. However, digging in a bit, I found that this rather beautiful desktop isn't just a revamp of Windows 95 and later incarnations.
Taking the Windows 8 Plunge
November 1, 2012
If you're used to Microsoft's stratospheric pricing email program -- Outlook alone is $139.99 estimated retail -- take a look at the small print at Microsoft's Windows 8 website, and you'll see that a Windows 8 Pro upgrade can be downloaded for a limited-time at the measly price of $39.99. This is a surprising bargain.
Souping Up Your Smartphone's GPS
October 25, 2012
At a recent search-and-rescue boot camp I attended, it was clear during unscientific tests I performed that a standalone, dedicated Global Positioning System device was more accurate navigating to waypoints than a smartphone with GPS chip -- but it was only by a few feet.
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Digital River - Sell Like a Local
How will the pandemic influence your holiday shopping habits this year?
I will shop online exclusively, for my own safety and to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
I will do some shopping online, and some in-person because I want to support merchants in my area.
I will shop online definitely, and I will consider local retailers -- but only if they provide curbside service.
I will only shop in-person because the risks associated with e-commerce outweigh my chance of catching COVID-19.
I will not do any holiday shopping this year due to circumstances related to the pandemic.
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