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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, February 8, 2015

 

We will not be publishing a newsletter next week in observance of President’s Day. See you in two weeks!

 

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Identity Theft Protection in 2015
Special Feature: What's the differences between Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and the Windows 8.1 Update?
Special Feature: Your Mac Computer: Getting Started with OS X
Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Disable Unnecessary Windows Services
Special Feature: iPad Basics: Buying an iPad
Websites of Interest: All About Winter Weather Alerts; Presidents Day; George Washington; Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday; The Emancipation Proclamation; Tour of the Lincoln Home; Valentine’s Day; Random Acts of Kindness Week

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Special Feature: Identity Theft Protection in 2015

From scamguard.com

The Internet has provided identity thieves with a myriad of methods to steal your personal data - and they're thinking up new techniques all the time! Therefore you need to be extraordinarily vigilant whenever you surf in unknown territory and each time you are asked for personal information or other data (such as your zip code) online.

Here are seven recommendations to protect yourself from identity theft online.
1. Choose strong passwords, and don't use the same one on each website you visit. Yes, it is much easier to use the same (or a similar) password - but it also makes things easier for the identity thief!

2. Never download a file from a website or other source with which you are unfamiliar. Also, never open an e-mail attachment from a person or organization with which you are not familiar.

3. Since no reputable bank or financial institution asks for personal information or your password in an e-mail, you can safely ignore any message that purports to come from your financial institution requesting such data. If you receive any other e-mail communication that appears to be from your financial institution, avoid replying directly or clicking on any link in the message. Instead, go to the institution's website and respond using an e-mail address or phone number listed there.

4. Anyone who is in the military and has been deployed overseas can ask that an "active duty alert" be posted on their credit report. This prevents credit from being granted without the individual's explicit approval for a period of up to one year.

5. Install effective security software - protecting your computer from viruses and malware - and ensure that it is updated automatically. If your computer is for personal use only and you don't do anything risky online, one of the free security programs may be sufficient. If the computer is for business use or if your online behavior is risky, you will need to pay for software in order to obtain adequate protection.

6. Never use a browser to store or "remember" your passwords. Enter each password every time you log on to a site.

7. Think twice before clicking on an unfamiliar link. If you click on a link that brings you to a site with an unusual amount of activity - moving graphics, video or audio that starts spontaneously, or multiple pop-ups - it's advisable to click the back button as quickly as possible. If you do happen to visit a website that you suspect may be unsafe, restart your computer as soon as you leave the site and then run a manual security scan.

Identity theft is one of the worst problems that can arise through Internet use. It can result in financial losses, damage to your reputation, and significant inconvenience. It is prudent to use every possible precaution to prevent this problem from occurring.

 

In our next newsletter: Tech Support Scams

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Special Feature: What's the differences between Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and the Windows 8.1 Update?

By Lincoln Spector of pcworld.com

To start the confusion, there are three versions of Windows 8:

• The original Windows 8
• The much-improved Windows 8.1
• The even-better Windows 8.1 Update

How do you tell which you have? Go to the Desktop environment and look in the lower-left corner. If there’s no Start button, you’ve got the original Windows 8.

If there's a Start button, click or tap it to go to the Start screen. Look in the upper-right corner. If there's a magnifying-glass icon, you have Windows 8.1 Update.

If you have the Start button, but not the magnifying glass, you have Windows 8.1, without the Update. In that case, you need update KB2919355.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2147667/update-to-the-8-1-update.html

Microsoft is patching Windows 8 and the Windows 8.1 Update, but not Windows 8.1 without the Update. Without patches, Windows becomes less secure.

Besides, the Windows 8.1 Update is by far the easiest and friendliest version of Windows 8 so far. Finally, the two user interfaces—Modern and Desktop—appear to be cooperating.

The good news: If you have a new computer, it’s almost certainly running Windows 8.1 with the Update.

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Special Feature: Your Mac Computer: Getting Started with OS X

From gcflearnfree.org

Whether you're new to computers or just new to OS X, it's important to learn the basics of using your computer. If it all seems a little overwhelming right now, don't worry! We'll take you through it step by step and show you some of the most fundamental things you'll need to know, such as how to work with the desktop, how to open and close windows, and how to turn off your computer.

Use this link to learn about the Desktop and watch an informative video:
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/osxbasics/2

 

In our next newsletter: Working with Applications and Windows

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Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Disable Unnecessary Windows Services

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.

In our ongoing series, Speed Up a Slow Computer, 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:
http://computerkindergarten.com/restorepoints.html

Note: It is recommended to turn off only one or two items at a time, write down the changes you made, and then use the computer for several days or a week to make sure everything is working fine. If problems do occur, the items that were changed can simply be changed back again.

Speed Up a Slow Computer – Disable Unnecessary Windows Services

A Windows service is a program that performs specific functions and is designed not to require user intervention. This means that the program starts up automatically when the computer is turned on and runs behind the scenes. The computer user does not have to do anything to start or work with the program and, most of the time, does not even see the program running.

Some of these services are for networked computers, ex. computers in an office that are connected to each other. They are unnecessary for the home user. Turning off these unnecessary services can improve the performance and speed of the computer.

To access Services in Windows XP, click on the Start button and open Control Panel. In Control Panel, open Administrative Tools (If you do not see Administrative Tools, click Classic view on the left). Open Services.

To access Services in Windows Vista, click on the Start orb (bottom left) and open Control Panel. In Control Panel, open Administrative Tools (If you do not see Administrative Tools, click Classic view on the left). Open Services.

To access Services in Windows 7, click on the Start orb (bottom left) and open Control Panel. In Control Panel, open System and Security, and then open Administrative Tools. Open Services.
To see more information about a particular service, click on it. A description of that service will appear to the left of the Name column. The Startup Type column displays Automatic, Manual or Disabled. Services marked Automatic start up when the computer is turned on and remain on and running while the computer remains on. These are the services that can be slowing the computer down.

To access Services in Windows 8/8.1, go to the Desktop. Right click to open the Power User Tasks Menu (Windows logo, bottom left). Open Control Panel. In Control Panel, open System and Security, and then open Administrative Tools. Open Services.

To see more information about a particular service, click on it. A description of that service will appear to the left of the Name column. The Startup Type column displays Automatic, Manual or Disabled. Services marked Automatic start up when the computer is turned on and remain on and running while the computer remains on. These are the services that can be slowing the computer down.

To stop a service from automatically starting, right click on the service name. Left click on Properties. The Properties window for that service will open. To the right of Startup Type, a drop down box will display Automatic. Click the down arrow to the right and then click Disabled. Click the OK button.

To determine which services are unnecessary for your computer, visit some of the websites listed below. These lists are compiled by Windows experts who have tested computers with and without these services running.

Windows XP
http://www.ss64.com/nt/syntax-services.html
http://www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm

Windows Vista
http://www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm

Windows 7
http://www.askvg.com/windows-7-services-that-can-be-safely-set-to-manual/
http://smallvoid.com/articles/windows-7-win7/services-guide/

Windows 8/8.1
http://tinyurl.com/ljgprxx
http://tinyurl.com/atd97mh

Important: It is strongly advised to disable only two services at a time. Note the services you disable and then use your computer for several days or a week. If there are no adverse effects after full usage of your computer, go back into Services and disable two more. If you do experience an adverse effect, go back into Services and change the services you disabled back to Automatic.

 

In our next edition, Defragment Your Hard Drive

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Special Feature: iPad Basics: Buying an iPad

From gcflearnfree.org

So you want an iPad

Apple's iPad has become a widely popular device since its launch in 2010. Before you purchase an iPad, however, you should familiarize yourself with the different options you have to choose from. This includes choosing between the Wi-Fi or cellular model and where you're going to purchase your iPad—either online, from Apple, or from another retailer.

Use this link to learn to learn more and understand your options
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/ipadbasics/2

 

In our next newsletter: Getting Started With the iPad

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Websites of Interest:

All About Winter Weather Alerts
This time of year you see all of those different weather advisories on the news. But what do they all mean and how do they differ?
http://tinyurl.com/p3ubph7

Presidents Day
Next Monday is Presidents Day. Visit this site for biographies of all presidents of the United States of America.
www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/

George Washington
Learn more about the first president and his life at Mount Vernon.
http://www.mountvernon.org

February 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
For historical materials, including his writings and speeches
http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/

Learn about the Emancipation Proclamation at the Library of Congress website:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/almintr.html

Visit the National Park Services website for a virtual tour of the Lincoln home in Springfield Illinois, a timeline of Lincoln’s life, information on his family and more.
http://www.nps.gov/liho/

February 14 is Valentine’s Day
Happy Valentine’s Day! How did Cupid become the symbol of Valentine’s Day? This website explains:
http://www.holidays.net/amore/cupid.html

Valentine’s History, resources, information and much more
http://www.stvalentinesday.org/

This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week
Inspiring people to practice kindness and pass it on to others.
http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/