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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, January 5, 2014

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Utility Shut-Off Scams Heat Up As Temperature Falls
Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Spammers Track Usage, Too
Special Series: Personalizing Your Start Screen in Windows 8
This Week's Topic: Windows 7 Aero Features
Special Feature: iPad Basics - How to Upgrade to iOS 7
Websites of Interest: New Year's Resolutions; What Taxpayers Should Watch for in 2014; Elvis Presley’s Birthday; Free iPad Apps; Opera Mania


Special Feature: Utility Shut-Off Scams Heat Up As Temperature Falls

By Sid Kirchheimer of aarp.org

Recent falling temperatures in parts of the U.S. have prompted a new wave of a time-tested power play – fraudsters posing as utility company workers who threaten to shut off your service because of supposedly unpaid bills.

The Shutoff Swindle has prompted warnings in recent weeks from utility companies from Maine to Washington State, including (usually) warmer-weather states such as Texas.

Typically, this scam occurs by telephone. Callers claim to be billing representatives from your utility company. They say you’ve got an overdue bill and need to pay quickly to avoid an impending shutoff. They may use “spoofing software” or Internet-based phone services to falsely display the name and phone number of your utility company on your Caller ID. Often they ask for a credit card or prepaid debit card for payment.

But officials and targeted customers now report that some of the scammers ask for cash, offering to dispatch someone to your home for immediate payment. The fraudsters may even tell you they’ll waive supposed penalty fees for cash payments.

The phony utility workers might also show up unannounced at your front door, seeking “overdue” payments or claiming a need to check your heating system.

What you should know:

If you really are overdue on your utility bill, most utilities will mail at least one – if not several – past-due notices before terminating service. Never accept a caller’s claim about a bill. When in doubt, contact your utility by calling the customer service number on your bill – not a phone number provided by a caller.

Utility companies do not dispatch employees to your home for payment, and rarely show up unannounced for service calls. If self-proclaimed workers arrive in pairs, assume it’s an attempt for a quick burglary. One will likely try to lead you to your furnace so the other can steal money, prescriptions or jewelry.

Never provide credit card information to an unknown caller. Some utility companies may accept payments by prepaid debit card but likely will not specifically request that payment method.


Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Spammers Track Usage, Too

Spam, spam and spam. How to avoid spam, how to filter spam, and how to complain about spam are the items on this menu of junk mail fighting tips. With the help of Heinz Tschabitscher of about.com, we are presenting an ongoing series of tips and tricks that you can use to minimize the amount of junk mail that you will receive in your email inbox.

Many of the HTML newsletters you receive will include images, which are downloaded from a remote server when you open the email to track whether you actually do open (and possibly even read) the message.

Spammers Track Usage, Too

Spammers, never shy to exploit all possibilities, may be using tracking images, too. By downloading the tracking image you confirm that you opened the email (maybe resulting in even more spam).

So how can you avoid being tracked?

If you can tell something is spam by the subject, the sender or the recipient, do not open it at all.

Additionally, you can configure your email client to avoid this kind of privacy infringement. Take a look at How Reading an Email Can Compromise Your Privacy.

In our next edition: How to Report Spam Comfortably with SpamCop


Special Series: Personalizing Your Start Screen in Windows 8

From gcflearnfree.org

You'll probably spend a lot of time on your Start screen, so you may want to personalize it so that it suits your taste. In this lesson, we'll show you several different ways to personalize it, including changing the background image and color, rearranging apps, pinning apps, and creating app groups.

To View Your Personalization Settings:

1. Hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to open the Charms bar, and then select the Settings charm.
2. Click Change PC settings.
3. Make sure Personalize is selected on the left side of the screen. Your settings will appear on the right side of the screen.

To Change Your Lock Screen Picture:

1. From your personalization settings, select Lock screen at the top of the screen.
2. Select the desired picture from the list of thumbnails. Alternatively, you can click Browse to select one of your own pictures.

The lock screen will appear whenever your computer is locked, which happens automatically after a few minutes of inactivity. You can also lock your computer by clicking your account name and selecting Lock.

To Change Your Start Screen Background:

1. From your personalization settings, select Start screen at the top of the screen.
2. Select the desired background image and color scheme.

Windows 8 does not allow you to use one of your own photos as your Start screen background.

To Change Your Account Picture:

1. From your personalization settings, select Account picture at the top of the screen.
2. Click Browse.
3. To use a photo in your SkyDrive, click on the desired SkyDrive folder. To select a folder on your computer, click the drop-down arrow at the top of the screen and select a different location.
4. When you have selected a photo, click Choose image.

If your computer or tablet has a built-in camera, you can click Camera to take a picture of yourself.


In our next newsletter: Customizing Your Start Screen Apps

You can review all of our previous Windows 8 articles on our website.

Do you have a question about Windows 8 that we haven’t covered yet? Please email your question and we’ll cover it in a future newsletter article.


Today's Topic: Windows 7 Aero Features

From gcflearnfree.org

Windows 7 uses a group of features called Windows Aero. Aero is a visual desktop experience that combines translucent windows, appealing color and graphics effects with convenient functionality. Aero includes Snap, Peek, Shake and Flip.


Snap allows you to resize open windows to make reviewing and comparing easier.

Place the mouse at the top of the window, drag to the left or right of the screen, wait for the transparent window to appear and let go. Your window should Snap into place.

To return to the full view, Snap the window to the top of the screen.


You can view your open windows on the taskbar by using Peek. Simply scroll the mouse over the taskbar icons and a thumbnail preview of the open windows will appear.

Hover the mouse over the windows in Peek and the full window will appear on your screen.

Click on the Peek preview to open the window or click on the "X" to close the window from the Peek view.


When your desktop is cluttered with open windows, you can use Shake to select a single window and close the rest.

Click on the top of the window you want to focus on, Shake it and the rest of the windows will disappear.

Simply Shake the window again and the closed windows will reappear.


Flip and Flip 3D are two more ways you can preview your open windows.

Press and hold the Alt key and then press Tab to open the Flip view of your open windows.

While still pressing the Alt key, you can Flip through the open windows by pressing the Tab key.

Stop on the window you want to open and it will appear on the full screen.

Press and hold the Windows key and then press Tab for a 3D version of Flip.

Use the Tab key or Arrow keys to Flip through your open windows.

Instead of holding down the Windows key, you can press Control + Windows key and then press Tab. You can then release all of the keys and Flip 3D will stay open.


In our next newsletter: Windows 7 Taskbar Features


Special Feature: iPad Basics - How to Upgrade to iOS 7

By Serenity Caldwell of macworld.com

iOS 7 has arrived, and eager users everywhere are getting ready to upgrade their devices. If you’re concerned about the upgrade process, or if you simply want to know all your setup options before making the big switch, let us help you upgrade your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to iOS 7 with this step-by-step guide.

What Devices Will Run iOS 7?

Before you consider upgrading, you must make sure that you have a compatible device. Since iOS 7 packs some new features and a graphics-heavy new design that require serious processing power, Apple has limited the operating system to the following models.

iPHONE MODELS: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s
iPAD MODELS: Second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPad or later; iPad mini
iPOD TOUCH MODELS: Fifth-generation iPod touch (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB)

If you have an earlier model of any of these products, you’ll have to stick with your current version of iOS.

Missing iOS 7 Features

While certain older devices can run iOS 7, they may not be able to take advantage of all the iOS features available on a new iPhone or iPad.

Prepare to Install

Once you’ve double-checked that your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is capable of running iOS 7, you need to decide how to install the OS. If you plan to install wirelessly, confirm that you have an available Wi-Fi connection; if you intend to install via iTunes, you need your computer and the latest version of iTunes. (If you don’t have it, you can download it from Apple’s website.)

We also suggest that you make a backup of your device before proceeding: If you’re doing a straight update, a backup prevents you from losing data in case something goes wonky down the line.

Back Up Via Your Computer

To make a backup using your computer, you can go through iTunes. Just plug your device into your computer (or use the Wi-Fi Sync option) and open iTunes.

Once the program is open, click the Devices button, select your device, and scroll down in the summary section to Backups. There, under ‘Manually Back Up and Restore’, click Back Up Now.

Back Up Via Your Device

To make a wireless backup directly from your device, you need an iCloud account. Once you’re logged in to iCloud, make sure your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network—you can’t create a backup over a cellular network.

After you’ve done so, just go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup, turn on the iCloud Backup toggle, and tap Back Up Now.

Upgrade to iOS 7

You have two ways to update your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to iOS 7: over the air (by way of a Wi-Fi network) or from your computer. Over-the-air updates are easier—assuming that you have a reliable Wi-Fi network—but tethered updates are faster.

Install Over the Air

If you’ve used an iOS device before, you’re probably familiar with the process of downloading app updates from the App Store app: When a red badge appears in the upper-right corner of the App Store icon, you open the App Store, navigate to the Updates tab, and download your app updates all at once or one by one. The update process for iOS 7 is similar, although instead of going to the App Store, you use the Settings app.

Just as they do with App Store apps, iOS devices running iOS 5 or later periodically check for new iOS updates. When one is available, a red badge appears on the Settings app; to download the update, open Settings and navigate to General > Software Update. There, you see some brief information about the update and a button to install it.

You don’t want your device to shut down before installation is complete, so make sure that it has 50 percent or more of its battery charge remaining, or is connected to a power source, before you start to install an update over the air.

These OS updates are called delta updates, because they contain only the parts of the operating system that have changed between the new version and the one your device is currently running. Delta updates are much smaller than full updates, so you can download them just about anywhere you have a decent Wi-Fi connection—you don’t have to worry about having to wait an hour while a 500MB file downloads.

Your device proceeds to download the update, and then restarts and installs it before greeting you with the customary welcome screen.

Install the Update from Your Computer

If you’re not that adventurous, you may prefer to install software updates the old-fashioned way. No problem: Just plug your phone into your computer and open iTunes.

In theory, the first time you open iTunes with an iOS 7–compatible device connected to your computer, iTunes will prompt you to download iOS 7. In practice, that may not happen automatically—for example, your computer may not have been notified of the update’s availability, because Apple rolls out updates gradually. You can force iTunes to check for an update: Just click the Check for Update button in the Summary screen for your device. Assuming that everything is working properly, iTunes should begin downloading iOS 7 from Apple’s server.

You can do other tasks while waiting for the download to finish; once it does, your device restarts and begins installing the software. When the update is complete, you’ll see a message saying that your device has been updated and is restarting. The process should preserve all your data and apps—you’ll simply have a shiny new version of iOS once your device restarts.


Websites of Interest:

New Year's Resolutions

Tips for Making Good New Year's Resolutions

From the Huffington Post, this site may help you keep your resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions Fun Facts & Figures
http://www.goalsguy.com/Events/n_facts.htmlWhat Taxpayers Should Watch for in 2014
From the Wall Street Journal online

January 8 is Elvis Presley’s Birthday
Everything Elvis at this site.

Free iPad Apps
This site posts a daily list of iPad apps that are being offered for free for that day only.

Opera Mania
Learn all about the opera.