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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, January 27, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: The Gullibility Factor and What You Can Do About It
Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned about Browsers and the Web: Web Apps
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Turn Off Auto Start Programs
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Getting to Know the iPad
Websites of Interest: Groundhog Day; Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling; Brooklyn Supper;


Special Feature: The Gullibility Factor and What You Can Do About It

By Audri Lanford of scambusters.org

Gullibility -- it may be hard to measure but it's easy to detect because, to one degree or another, we all suffer from it.

But whether you're susceptible to a scam depends more on your state of mind and your trusting nature than on your level of intelligence. So that means there's something you can do about it to reduce your gullibility, as we explain in this week's issue.

The success of nearly every scam that confronts us depends on one single factor -- gullibility, our willingness to believe something that's untrue, and then to take action that involves giving away money or information, circulating untrue emails, or downloading malware onto our computers.

But how susceptible are you and is there anything you can do about it?

Until recently, there's been very little research into the subject, but what we do know is that pretty much every individual is capable of being and, indeed, has been tricked, and that intelligence is no defense against the gullibility factor. In fact, one of the world's leading gullibility experts, clinical psychiatry professor Stephen Greenspan, who wrote a book called The Annals of Gullibility, admits he was a victim of the Madoff Ponzi scheme that cost him 30% of his life savings.

However, studies do suggest that some of us are more gullible than others and that our susceptibility varies according to our circumstances and even the time of day -- for example, we are more likely to fall for a scam if we are tired.

A gullibility survey by The Ponemon Institute, a well-respected privacy and information security firm, identified the following characteristics:

Among vulnerable categories, younger people are more likely to fall for a scam than seniors.

Americans are more gullible than the British or Australians -- the three groups the survey covered.

Bogus prizes and antivirus software are the most successful at fooling people.

Supporters of the two main political parties are equally gullible when it comes to believing things that are untrue -- not just in politics but in all aspects of life.

Most of us think we're better at identifying scams than we really are.

Four Gullibility Factors

So, is it possible to test how gullible we are and can we do anything to improve our skepticism rating?

Greenspan says gullibility relies on four factors:

Our human tendency to follow the crowd -- if everyone's doing it, we believe it must be okay;

even if it isn't; our ability to think through the information or situation we encounter, which can abandon us under pressure or if we're tired;

a weak personality -- just a tendency to be more trusting and readier to believe what we're told;

and our emotional state at any particular time -- which is why scammers try to wear us down or pressure us to "act now" and, why, sadly, they like to hit victims when they are already down.

Researchers have recently located the part of the brain that is responsible for gullibility, showing that it is smaller and less well-formed in young people, grows to full size in most adults, and then begins to shrink with age.

In another project, scientists discovered that the part of the brain responsible for cold, hard-fact analysis is easily overridden by our gullibility when we're told a tale that stirs our emotions.

How to Reduce Your Gullibility

So, given all of that, is there anything we can do to reduce our gullibility? Here are seven ideas from Greenspan's book and other sources:

1. Simply being aware of how easy it is to fall for a scam puts you on your guard and lowers your risk of being scammed.

2. Avoid rushing decisions. Refuse to be pressured and allow yourself time to think things through. This can even apply to forwarding emails -- stop and think: can this really be true?

3. Steer clear of situations where you know you're more vulnerable. For example, if you tend to weaken easily under pressure, don't get caught up in conversations with high-pressure sales people.

4. Don't allow yourself to believe you're scam-proof. You're not, and admitting your potential vulnerability will strengthen your sense of skepticism.

5. Practice "disengaging." Forget about being polite and hearing out someone who's trying to convince you. Hang up; walk away; do whatever you need to do to avoid hearing the patter that might ultimately wear you down.

6. Educate yourself. The more you read and learn about the way people fall for scams, the more your own gullibility defenses will be strengthened. Subscribing to this newsletter is obviously a great start!

7. Don't follow the crowd. Realize that people you know and trust may be unreliable -- unintentionally or otherwise. Form your own opinions based on research and what you know to be true.

Don't forget too that you can help others by tactfully pointing out their potential vulnerability, highlighting scam incidents and letting them know that gullibility is not a sign of low intelligence -- it's a fact of life.


Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned about Browsers and the Web: Web Apps

Many of us these days depend on the World Wide Web to bring the world’s information to our fingertips, and put us in touch with people and events across the globe instantaneously.

These powerful online experiences are possible thanks to an open web that can be accessed by anyone through a web browser, on any Internet-connected device in the world.

But how do our browsers and the web actually work? How has the World Wide Web evolved into what we know and love today? And what do we need to know to navigate the web safely and efficiently?

“20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” is a short guide for anyone who’s curious about the basics of browsers and the web. Here’s what you’ll find here:

First we’ll look at the Internet, the very backbone that allows the web to exist. We’ll also take a look at how the web is used today, through cloud computing and web apps.

Then, we’ll introduce the building blocks of web pages like HTML and JavaScript, and review how their invention and evolution have changed the websites you visit every day. We’ll also take a look at the modern browser and how it helps users browse the web more safely and securely.

Finally, we’ll look ahead to the exciting innovations in browsers and web technologies that we believe will give us all even faster and more immersive online experiences in the future.

Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education. Just as we’d want to know various basic facts as citizens of our physical neighborhoods -- water safety, key services, local businesses -- it’s increasingly important to understand a similar set of information about our online lives. That’s the spirit in which we wrote this guide. Many of the examples used to illustrate the features and functionality of the browser often refer back to Chrome, the open-source browser that we know well. We hope you find this guide as enjoyable to read as we did to create.
Happy browsing!
The Google Chrome Team

Web Apps

If you play online games, use an online photo editor, or rely on web-based services like Google Maps, Twitter, Amazon, YouTube or Facebook, then you’re an active resident in the wonderful world of web apps.

What exactly is a web app, anyway? And why should we care?

App is shorthand for an application. Applications are also called programs or software. Traditionally, they’ve been designed to do broad, intensive tasks like accounting or word processing. In the online world of web browsers and smart phones, apps are usually nimbler programs focused on a single task. Web apps, in particular, run these tasks inside the web browser and often provide a rich, interactive experience.

Google Maps is a good example of a web app. It’s focused on one task: providing helpful map features within a web browser. You can pan and zoom around a map, search for a college or cafe, and get driving directions, among other tasks. All the information you need is pulled into the web app dynamically every time you ask for it.

This brings us to four virtues of Web Appiness:

1. I can access my data from anywhere.
In the traditional world of desktop applications, data is usually stored on my computer’s hard drive. If I’m on vacation and leave my computer at home, I can’t access my email, photos, or any of my data when I need it. In the new world of web apps, my email and all my data are stored online on the web. I can get to it on a web browser from any computer that’s connected to the Internet.

2. I’ll always get the latest version of any app.
Which version of YouTube am I using today? What about tomorrow? The answer: Always the latest. Web apps update themselves automatically, so there’s always just one version: the latest version, with all the newest features and improvements. No need to manually upgrade to a new version every time. And I don’t have to go through a lengthy install process to use my web apps.

3. It works on every device with a web browser.
In traditional computing, some programs work only on particular systems or devices. For instance, many programs written for a PC won’t work on a Mac. Keeping up with all the right software can be time-consuming and costly. In contrast, the web is an open platform. Anyone can reach it from a browser on any web-connected device, regardless of whether it’s a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile phone. That means I can use my favorite web apps even if I’m using my friend’s laptop or a computer at an Internet cafe.

4. It’s safer.
Web apps run in the browser and I never have to download them onto my computer. Because of this separation between the app code and my computer’s code, web apps can’t interfere with other tasks on my computer or the overall performance of my machine. This means that I’m better protected from threats like viruses, malware and spyware.

In our next edition: HTML, JAVASCRIPT, CSS and more


Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Turn Off Auto Start Programs

As your Windows computer ages, its speed can decrease. You will notice an increase in response time when you give commands to open programs, files or folders, use the Internet and other tasks. There are several things you can do to speed up your computer.

Over the next several editions of this newsletter, we will present articles discussing some of the steps you can take to speed up your slow computer.

Important: Before making any changes to your system, always create a Restore Point. If anything goes wrong with the changes you make, this will allow you to revert back to a point when the computer was operating correctly. Please visit our Newsletter Archives to read our article, All About Restore Points:


Turn Off Auto Start Programs

Windows will automatically open programs that are in your Startup folder. You will find the startup folder in the Start button menus. Click the Start button or orb, point to Programs, and then point to Startup.

Everything you see in there automatically opens when you turn your computer on. (If you do not recognize everything in there, note that some programs run behind the scenes and you will never see them on your desktop).

While it may be convenient for programs to be open when you are ready to use them, this process usually significantly increases the time it takes to start the computer.

Some programs, in the installation process, are designed to put a shortcut in the Startup folder; you may not necessarily want that program to open every time you use your computer. These programs can be removed from Auto Startup.

To do so, click the Start button, point to Programs, point to Startup. Right click the Program that you want to remove. Left click Delete from the resulting menu.

You will be asked to confirm the deletion; click Yes, OK or Delete Shortcut (depending on your version of Windows).

Note: When you delete a program from the Start menu, you are not uninstalling the program from the computer. You are deleting the Shortcut, which is the command that tells Windows to open the program. The program will still exist on the computer, and, more than likely, another shortcut to the program will be elsewhere in the Start menu.

In our next edition, learn how to speed up your computer by turning off programs that start up automatically.


Special Feature: iPad Basics - Getting to Know the iPad

From gcflearnfree.org

Once you have an iPad, your next step should be learning about the physical features of the device, and the accessories that came with it. This includes the different buttons and ports; how to charge the battery; and the importance of protecting the screen.

Device and Accessories

The iPad currently comes with the following accessories:

USB cable (for connecting to your computer as well as the power adapter)
USB power adapter (for charging the battery)
Documentation (including warranty)

Buttons and Ports

The round button on the face is called the Home button. You press this button when you want to exit an app and return to your home screen.

Dock connector. This is where you plug in the including cable to sync your iPad and your computer. This is on the bottom edge.

Speakers. The built-in speakers on the bottom of the iPad play music and audio from movies, games, and apps.

Hold button. This button locks the iPad's screen and puts the device to sleep. Holding it down for several moments will turn the iPad off.

Antenna cover. This small strip of black plastic is found only on iPads that have 3G connectivity built in. The strip covers the 3G antenna and allows the 3G signal to reach the iPad. WiFi-only iPads don't have this; they have solid gray back panels.

Mute Button. Like on the iPhone, toggling this switch will mute the volume of the iPad or restore it. On iPads running versions of the iOS prior to 4.2, this was the screen orientation lock, which prevented the iPad's screen from automatically switching from landscape to portrait mode (or vice versa) when you changed the orientation of the device.

Volume Controls. Use this button to raise or lower the volume of the audio played through the speakers at the bottom of the iPad.

Headphone Jack. - Plug in headphones here.

Charging the Battery

Charge your iPad anywhere with the included power adapter. To use it, plug the adapter into a power outlet, then connect the iPad using the USB cable.

Care and Protection

Other accessories, like a case or cover for your iPad, are sold separately. If you don't have one yet, now's the time to look for something that fits your style, budget, and personal needs. The Apple Store has several options to choose from, including the popular Smart Cover. The Smart Cover was designed specifically for the iPad, and can also be used as a stand.

If you're not interested in the Smart Cover (or any of the cases in the Apple Store), don't worry—you can find hundreds of alternatives if you search online or in stores. No matter what you choose, a good case or cover will go a long way towards protecting your device, so you can enjoy it for years to come.

You should also make sure you have a soft, lint-free cloth for wiping fingerprints and smudges off the screen. Never use household cleaners, alcohol, or other abrasives.

In our next edition:
Apple ID


Websites of Interest:

Groundhog Day
Saturday is Groundhog Day. Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? Will we have 6 more weeks of winter? Catch up with Phil at his official website:

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling
From the Colorado Spine Institute, this site will explain ways to reduce the stress and strain when shoveling.

Brooklyn Supper
A place for seasonal recipes, everyday food ideas, the Brooklyn food scene, rooftop gardening, and farmer’s market resources.

Interesting and unusual historical and scientific facts.