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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, March 30, 2014

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Skip the Identity Theft Coverage and Similar Credit Card Perks to Save Money on Fees
Special Series: Introduction to the Windows 8 Start Screen
Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - Getting Started with OS X Mavericks - The Menu Bar
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Disable Unnecessary Windows Services
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Sharing
Websites of Interest: How to Start a Garden; ASPCA; April Fool’s Day; April Fool’s Day Practical Jokes

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Special Feature: Skip the Identity Theft Coverage and Similar Credit Card Perks to Save Money on Fees

By Alan Henry of lifehacker.com/

Most credit card companies will try to upsell you on things like identity theft protection and credit score tracking when you sign up for a new card, or when a bank tries to "upgrade" the card you have to a different model or tier. Usually those additional perks, even if they come veiled in the company of lower interest rates or higher credit limits, come with hefty fees attached, or subscription charges that can add up over time.

Identity Theft coverage from credit card companies can be particularly misleading. According to wisebread.com, the coverage that card issuers often give you promises to limit your liability in case of fraud or identity theft, but what most card issuers don't tell consumers is that their liability in both cases is already limited to $50 by the Truth in Lending Act of 1968 - and if you're paying $5/month for such protection, it's worth calling up your credit card company to cancel it.

wisebread.com also points out a number of other credit card "perks" that often show up in your annual fees, but are marketed as essential services, like credit score tracking or missed payment insurance.

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Special Series: Introduction to the Windows 8 Start Screen

From bleepingcomputer.com

Windows 8 comes with a new user interface called the Windows Start Screen that is the first thing you see when you login to Windows 8. This is the main interface that Windows 8 user's use to launch applications, search for files, and browse the web.

The Start screen contain tiles that represent different programs that you can launch by clicking on the title. One of the features of this new interface is that the tiles themselves are able to show you real-time information directly on the Start screen. This will allow you to use the Start screen not only as a way to start an application, but also as a way to quickly see data such as the weather, e-mail information, new RSS feed articles, etc. For example, the weather tile will not only allow you to launch the main Weather application, but will also display your actual weather conditions directly on the Windows 8 Start screen.

Programs that are designed for the Start Screen interface are called Apps . These Apps are designed to work with the Start Screen so that you can share information with other Apps , synchronize them with other computers, and easily be deployed via the Windows Store.

In our next edition: Start at the Start Screen

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Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - Getting Started with OS X Mavericks - The Menu Bar

From gcflearnfree.org

The menu bar is located at the top of the screen. It is always visible except when you're running a full-screen app. The options on the menu bar will vary depending on which app you're currently using. The name of the app will appear in bold near the left side of the menu bar, and the options to the right of the name allow you to perform various tasks within the app.

The Apple Icon

On the left side of the menu bar is the Apple icon, which you can use to access your System Preferences, recent documents, and more. You'll also use the Apple icon to shut down or restart your computer.

Spotlight

On the right side of the menu bar is a magnifying glass icon. When you click it, it will open Spotlight, which is a tool you can use to search your computer. If you're having trouble finding a file, app, or folder, you can just type the name in Spotlight, and it will show you a list of results. You can also press Command+Spacebar on your keyboard to open Spotlight.

Notification Center

The Notification Center icon is located on the far right of the menu bar. When you click it, the Notification Center will appear on your desktop. It keeps track of all of the alerts you receive for upcoming calendar appointments, tweets, news feeds, and other application events. The Notification Center can be customized to show as many or as few app alerts as you desire.

 

In our next newsletter: Multi-Touch Gestures

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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/021311.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 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/

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 - Sharing

From gcflearnfree.org

Sharing is also a big part of using the iPad. In fact, to help you stay connected, Apple has created a feature called the Share button (look for a clockwise arrow) that can be found in many different apps.

Just tap the Share button any time you see it, and you'll gain access to a wide range of options. You can share photos, videos, and much more across a variety of networks—including email, instant messaging, Twitter, and Facebook. You can even print photos or documents if you have a wireless printer in your home or office.

In our next edition:
Wi-Fi, Security, and General Settings

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Websites of Interest:

How to Start a Garden
From the experts at about.com, this site will teach you everything you need to know to get started in your garden.
http://landscaping.about.com/od/springgardens/tp/how-to-start-gardens.htm

ASPCA
April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
http://www.aspca.org/

April Fool’s Day
April 1 is April Fool’s Day. What is April Fool’s Day and how did it begin? See what this website has to say:
http://www.web-holidays.com/aprilfools/

April Fool’s Day Practical Jokes
Want to play an April Fool’s Day practical joke on someone but cannot think of a good one? This site may help with the Web's biggest collection of April Fool’s Day freebies including practical jokes, pranks, free gag software and more.
http://www.thefreesite.com/Seasonal_Freebies/April_Fools/