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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, April 3, 2016

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Password Tips to Stump Hackers - How to Create a Strong Password
Special Feature: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Whether or Not to Unsubscribe from Spam
Special Feature: Getting Started with Windows 10
Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Registry Cleaner
Special Feature: Our List of the Essential iPad Apps
Websites of Interest: Become a Gmail Power User; World Health Day; Backyard Birds on Long Island

Special Note from the Editor:

Just this week, I received 17 ‘Stranded Traveler’ scam emails from friends and contacts. In all cases, their email was hacked. We’ll be doing an article in next week’s newsletter with more information on this scam.

Along with the ‘Grandparents’ scams, these hackers prey on good people’s love and concern for friends and family members. (see more about the Grandparents scam http://computerkindergarten.com/061415.html).

If you ever receive an email or phone call supposedly from a loved one or friend, please be sure to contact that person before sending any money. And read today’s article, below, on secure passwords so your email will never be hacked.

Stay safe out there!

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Special Feature: Password Tips to Stump Hackers - How to Create a Strong Password

By Sid Kirchheimer of aarp.org

Using their own ingenuity and automated programs that target thousands of computers simultaneously, hackers can quickly crack many simple passwords and break into online accounts. And once they sign in as you, they may change the password, locking you out of your own account.

One study finds that a successful hacking attack occurs about every 39 seconds. But in just a few seconds of your own, there are some ways you can strengthen your password for better online security.

12 is the new 8

As cyber crooks hone their skills, the traditional recommendation that passwords contain at least eight characters has changed. Passwords should now be at least 12 characters, say researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. In their tests, they learned that eight-character passwords can be cracked in about two hours, but adding just four additional keystrokes to a password could raise that to a theoretical 17,000 years.

Small tweaks, big results

Longer passwords are a good first step, but even more important is making each character count. And yet one recent survey found that half of 2,500 surveyed computer users never employ symbols such as &, >, # or @ in their passwords. Worse, many still only use lowercase letters or just add numbers at the end of words, such as the foolish and easily hacked "password123."

In one study, a British researcher noted that bolstering an all lowercase eight-character password with a few well-placed symbols, numbers and a combination of upper- and lowercase letters would take commercial hacking software about 200 years to crack.

Steps like these serve to blunt the hackers' software, which works by trying various versions of words in an English dictionary and even combinations of them.

Sometimes it can be easier to recall "harder" passwords.

Of course, the more complicated a password, the harder it is for you to remember it — explaining why you may often quickly change the cryptic passwords initially assigned when you open a new online account. After all, who can remember "iH3k&tR#rS-c"?

You can — by taking some new advice: Choose a sentence, phrase or song that you can easily remember, and add a few keystroke tweaks. The above 12-character password, for example, is a hacker-resistant version of "I have 3 kids and they are really super-cool" (which is true for me, but hackers, take note: I'm not using it as a password).

Your favorite song? "When I'm feeling blue/All I have to do/Is take a look at you" becomes "WiFbAiH2DiTaLaU," with each word's initial letter alternating between lower case and capital. Then "A Groovy Kind of Love" becomes a stronger password.

And while you shouldn't use birthdays or anniversaries as a password — those dates may be available in online public records and used by hackers who specifically target you — those easy-to-remember dates can be tweaked for better protection. If you must rely on your June 10 wedding, for instance, consider including lesser-known info — such as the initials of your maid of honor (Susan Jones) and honeymoon destination (Miami), à la "sj@0610#miaFL."

Of course, this level of complexity may not be for everyone. But give it a try — if you create (and remember) passwords like these, you'll have nearly uncrackable security.

Other old-standby ways to bolster password security:

Say no when browsers offer to save your password. Website browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer let users save passwords so that they don't have to enter them each time they go to a site, but widely used password-stealing "Trojan" programs know where to look for and how to steal that information. Plus, a saved password can translate to easier hacking if your computer gets stolen.

Use different passwords for different accounts. And change them every 90 days or so. Only about one in five computers users employs multiple passwords on different accounts, and many fail to ever change them.

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Special Feature: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Whether or Not to Unsubscribe from Spam

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.

Spam is best filtered away, never to be seen.

Once in a while, junk email may make it to your email inbox, though, and — lo and behold — it contains an "unsubscribe" link. Or is it a purported "unsubscribe" link?
A Wasted Effort?

Generally, the content of spam is not to be believed, and that applies to all promises to take you off the list as well. From that avenue, unsubscribing from spam is wasted effort better to be spared elsewhere.
What Could Happen if You "Unsubscribe"?

Then, of course, you're already getting the spam. If you follow the unsubscription instructions that are easy to follow, you can be taken off one spammer's list — or at least you're not off much worse. (Take care not to be tricked into giving away any data other than your email address.)
Be Nice to Newsletters You Don't Like (Any Longer)

Finally, there's the chance that what you not think is spam looked like a nice newsletter to sign up for seven years ago. If you use the unsubscription method offered instead of reporting the email as junk, you spare the publisher and your email provider a lot of hassle, and you make spam filtering much more effective.

In our next edition: Don't Use "This is Spam" to Unsubscribe

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Special Feature: Getting Started with Windows 10

Whether you're using a new computer with Windows 10 or an older machine that was recently upgraded, this video will show you the basics of using this version of Windows.

http://www.gcflearnfree.org/windows10/4

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Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Registry Cleaner

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


Registry Cleaner

A registry cleaner is a program designed for the Microsoft Windows operating system whose purpose is to remove redundant or unwanted items from the Windows registry. The registry stores configuration settings and options for the computer, so excess files and items in there can significantly slow the computer down.

CCleaner is a free program for computers running Windows. It removes unnecessary items that accumulate over time, slow down your computer and can cause problems. It deletes excess files, removes programs that you no longer need, and cleans junk entries in the Windows registry.

What is CCleaner?

The following article is by Kefa Olang, eHow Contributing Writer
A computer's performance diminishes over time if steps are not taken to maintain it. As programs and files are downloaded and installed, they can cause system errors. CCleaner is a simple software program that manages and improves a computer's performance.

Benefits

CCleaner is an system optimization program designed to improve the registry and system folders. It scans the computer for unnecessary files that use system resources with no added benefit. It also allows you to uninstall programs and is especially beneficial if you are having trouble uninstalling from the Control Panel. CCleaner also allows you to clean browser cache and history to not only remove clutter which causes browser problems but also protect personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

How Much?

CCleaner, unlike other reputable registry cleaning software, is 100 percent free. While the company asks you to make a donation of about $20 if you can, it is not mandatory and does not restrict you from downloading the program. Whether you donate or not, you can still download a full version without any restrictions. If you decide to donate, you can do so using PayPal. CCleaner developers come up with new updates frequently; therefore, donators get access to the latest downloads before others receive them.

Installation

Before installing Ccleaner, make sure that your computer has the necessary requirements needed to run it. For example, CCleaner can only be installed on Windows operating systems. Currently there isn't a Macintosh and Linux version. Your computer also requires a minimum of 64MB RAM to handle its processes. To install it, your computer also has to be logged on the administrative account. If your computer meets the requirements, simply download and run the installation file to install CCleaner on your computer.

Usage

CCleaner is very easy to use even for novice computer user because its controls are easy to navigate through. When you launch CCleaner, all the controls are on the left panel. You can select from many different tools, such as registry cleaner, disk cleanup and program uninstall. The wizards guide you on on using the tool you select. As for registry cleaning, CCleaner scans the registry automatically for missing DLL and ActiveX files as well as left over entries for uninstalled programs and allows you to delete them.

Expert Insight

Run CCleaner frequently, especially if you download files from the Internet. Cleaning the registry and removing useless files will not only free hard disk space, but also improve your computer's ability to manage resources. Because CCleaner cleans the system safely, you should not try to do it manually because you risk deleting vital system files and folders necessary on the computer.

How to Install CCleaner

This website provides graphical instruction on downloading and installing CCleaner:
http://tinyurl.com/n8gxeb4

How to Use CCleaner

Please visit this site for graphical instruction on using CCleaner:
http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/ccleaner.htm

 

In our next edition, Speed Up a Slow Computer – Windows Prefetch

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Special Feature: Our List of the Essential iPad Apps

By Thorin Klosowski of lifehacker.com

It took a little while for the apps to come into their own, but we’re at a place now where the iPad has nearly as good of a selection of apps as the iPhone. Now, it’s harder than ever to find apps that are worthwhile. Let us save you some time with this collection of the best iPad apps:

http://tinyurl.com/z37f675

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Websites of Interest:

Become a Gmail Power User
Quick Tricks and Extensions
http://tinyurl.com/jalbaff

World Health Day
The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s theme is Halt the Rise: Beat Diabetes.
http://tinyurl.com/gvpsyvp

Backyard Birds on Long Island
On this page you will find photos of the birds that we see most often in our own backyards.
http://tinyurl.com/jplt6fa