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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, May 4, 2014

In this Issue:
Special Feature: How to Protect Yourself from Fraud and Identity Theft Offline
Special Series: Personalize the Windows 8 Start Screen
Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - Mac OS X Mavericks - Finder Tabs
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Detect and Repair Disk Errors
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Syncing with iCloud
Websites of Interest: Cinco de Mayo; What’s Happening on Long Island; GetGoing; Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States

The Heartbleed Hit List
Please visit this site. If you use any of the websites listed, you need to change your password right away.


Special Feature: How to Protect Yourself from Fraud and Identity Theft Offline

By Alan Henry of lifehacker.com/

Today we're going to look at how you can keep your personal information safe when you're away from the computer.

Shred Sensitive Documents Before Disposal

This is probably the easiest and best thing you can do to make sure your bank statements or credit card statements don't wind up in the hands of anyone unintended. Whether you're afraid of dumpster divers or you just don't like the idea of your credit card statement possibly flying off of the garbage truck and into the street, the best thing to do to fix it is to buy a simple cross-cut shredder.

Depending on how much you need to shred and how many sheets you want to put through it at one time, you can buy one for around $40-$50 at Staples or over at Amazon. If you need serious shredding capabilities though, you can easily wind up spending over $100 on a larger shredder capable of dicing up a dozen sheets of paper or more. Most of us will only need the ability to shred 8-10 pages or less, so there's no reason to break the bank on a shredder, but having one in your home gives you an easy way to securely dispose of sensitive documents.

Always Keep Important Documents Locked Up

You can't shred everything. You need to keep your tax documents, financial statements, social security card, birth certificate, and other current sensitive documents somewhere (and definitely don't carry them on your person or in your wallet or purse, where they can be lost or stolen). We're big fans of organizing your documents in a filing cabinet, and keeping that filing cabinet organized, but it's also important to make sure that filing cabinet has a lock on it.

If the unthinkable happens and your home is burglarized, the thief likely won't be interested in lugging out a massive locked filing cabinet just to get what may be inside. Similarly, keeping your filing cabinet locked will discourage friends or family members in your home from poking around in it. It sounds harsh, but half of all identity theft cases involve a family member, neighbor, or someone the victim knows, and those cases can be more damaging because the culprit has greater access to the victim's personal information.

Extend this to your physical mail as well. Make sure to pick up your mail every day even if you have a locked mailbox, and when you send outgoing mail, make sure the sensitive stuff goes into a locked and secured mailbox, if you can. Stealing the mail is low-tech, but to a thief looking for your signature and bank account number, all they need is one outgoing bill payment for it to be effective. When possible, switch to electronic statements, automatic check deposits, and electronic bill-pay to avoid the risk altogether.

Report Lost or Stolen Documents, Checks, or Credit Cards Immediately

This may seem like common sense, but one of the most frequent avenues for identity theft is a lost checkbook, and to a lesser extent a lost debit or credit card. If you've lost your checkbook, call your bank immediately and ask them to cancel all checks in that book past the one you last wrote. Avoid carrying your social security card in your purse or wallet in the first place, and keep it under lock and key at home. The same applies for your credit cards and debit cards. Keep any you don't use regularly in a safe place, and if any go missing, don't keep digging around your house days after you misplaced them hoping they'll "just turn up." Report them missing and get new ones as soon as possible.

Beware Suspicious Phone Calls, Even from Companies You Trust

In the age of the internet, you might think that the cold call is gone forever, but sales calls that try to trick you into signing up for a service or giving out your credit card information are still alive and well. If someone calls asking for payment information for a service they claim you signed up for, don't be afraid to give them the third degree, especially if they claim to call from a company you actually do business with. Banks and credit unions will tell you that they'll never call you and ask you for information that they should have already, like your credit card number, account number, routing number, or PIN, and anyone you've already done business with shouldn't need to reach out to you for information unless they can prove they really need it.

If you get a call that sounds legit, don't give out anything sensitive. If it's a robocall or automated message, call the company's customer service line back and ask them if the message was legit and see what they need. If it's a person, tell them you don't have the information they're requesting, and that you'll call the customer service line back later when you do. If they try to pressure you or tell you the issue is time-sensitive, you'll know the truth.

Be Skeptical, Be Vigilant

Last week, we discussed how important it is to grow a healthy sense of skepticism about what you see and read on the internet. The same is true offline, although most of us already know that an envelope from a company we've never heard of marked "account info inside/open immediately" is probably an ad or scam trying to get you to send something back, and that any telemarketer that calls you to with a "time sensitive" offer that you won't be allowed to think over and respond to later is probably just out for your money.

Even so, it's important to keep up that healthy skepticism and be vigilant about the security of your sensitive documents and information out here in the real world. The Better Business Bureau says that identity theft and fraud are still more prevalent offline than online, so don't underestimate the importance of making sure your sensitive information is safe and locked up, and that you report anything missing or suspicious as soon as possible.


Special Series: Personalize the Windows 8 Start Screen

From microsoft.com

Start is the heart of your PC, and you can customize it so it’s just the way you want it. You can pin your most used and loved apps, websites, friends, files, and folders to your Start screen, so you can get to them quickly. If you’ve used previous versions of Windows, think of the Start screen like your old Start menu, but the Start screen shows you a lot more.

Some of the tiles on your Start screen will update automatically, so you can see things like the weather and status updates from your friends at a glance. You don't have to open the apps to get the information you're looking for.

Move Tiles Around

You can arrange the tiles on your Start screen in whatever way makes the most sense to you—put similar tiles together, group all your favorites, or create a "work" group for the apps you use for work. To move a tile, drag it up or down, and then drag it wherever you want.
Create a New Group of Tiles

You can create a new group of tiles by dragging one tile to an open space. When a gray bar appears, release the tile—this will create a new group, and you can drag more tiles to it.

After you’ve grouped your tiles together, you can name the group. Here's how:

Touch the Start screen with two or more fingers, and then pinch them toward each other to zoom out. (Or, if you’re using a mouse, click zoom in the lower-right corner of your screen.)
Swipe down on or right-click a group of tiles to select it, and then tap or click Name group.

Resize a Tile

You can make tiles larger or smaller. To do this, swipe down on or right-click the tile to select it, and then tap or click Larger or Smaller. (Note that some tiles can’t be resized.)

Remove a Tile

To remove a tile from the Start screen, swipe down on or right-click the tile to select it, and then tap or click Unpin from Start. (The app will still be available when you search, and you can re-pin it later if you decide you want it back on your Start screen.)

To uninstall an app and remove it from your PC, select the tile, and then tap or click Uninstall. It will no longer be available when you search, and you’ll have to reinstall the app if you want to get it back. Some apps can't be uninstalled.

Change the Start Screen Colors

You can change the background and color of your Start screen. The background only appears on Start, but the color you pick appears in a few other places, too—like the charms and the sign-in screen.

Here's how:

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)
Tap or click Personalize, and then tap or click Start screen.
Choose the color and background combination you like best.

You can see the changes immediately, so you can play around with backgrounds and colors as much as you want before settling on one.

In our next edition: How to Find Things in Windows 8


Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - Mac OS X Mavericks - Finder Tabs

From gcflearnfree.org

To Open a New Finder Tab:

Open Finder, click File in the Menu bar, and then select New Tab. Alternatively, you can press Command+T on your keyboard.

The new tab will appear.

Changing the View, Arrangement, and Sort Options

OS X allows you to change the way folder contents are displayed by changing the view, arrangement, and sort options. This makes it easier to find the specific file that you're looking for.

View Options
Finder has four different view options to choose from. You may prefer to use just one all the time, or you can switch between them whenever you want.

Icon View: This is the default view. It displays the folder contents as large icons.
List View: This displays a vertical list of folder contents, along with details about each item.
Column View: This shows the current folder in a column, with the parent folder in another column to the left. If the Finder window is large enough, it will display several levels of folders, allowing you to see the location of the current folder. If you select a file, it will display a preview of the file to the right of the columns.
Cover Flow: This is similar to List View, but at the top of the window there is a preview of the folder contents. Using your keyboard's arrow keys, you can easily flip through all of the files in the folder without actually opening them.

No matter which view you're in, you can preview a file by pressing the space bar on your keyboard. This is known as Quick Look. It works with most common file types, but not all.

To Change the Item Arrangement:

With OS X, you can group folder contents by file type, application, date, size, or tag. This is very useful when you have a lot of files in a folder.

Click the Item Arrangement button and select the desired arrangement.
The folder contents will now be arranged into groups.

To remove the grouping, simply change the item arrangement to None.

To Sort in List View and Cover Flow:

If you are in List View or Cover Flow, you can sort the folder contents. This is similar to item arrangement, except it only puts the contents in order and doesn't group them. You can't use sorting and item arrangement at the same time, so you'll need to make sure the item arrangement is set to None.

Click a column header to sort by that column. For example, you can click the Size column header to sort by file size.

If you don't see the column you want, you can right-click any column header to select the columns that you want to show.


In our next newsletter: Mac OS X Mavericks - Working with Files and Folders


Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Detect and Repair Disk Errors

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:

Detect and Repair Disk Errors

As a computer gets older, parts of the hard drive can begin to develop errors. Disk usage and improper shutdowns can cause what are called bad sectors. This kind of error takes up disk space and can lead to slow performance.

Windows includes a tool called CheckDisk or Disk Checker (depending on your version of Windows). It searches the disk for errors and bad sectors and attempts to fix them. To use CheckDisk, follow these steps:

Open My Computer or Computer. My Computer is found in Windows XP and Computer is found in Vista and 7. Look for the icon on the desktop or in the item in the Start menu.

Right click on the C: drive. Click Properties in the resulting menu.

Click the Tools tab at the top.

Click the Check Now button.

Click to select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box and click Start.

This will check the hard disk and, if possible, repair any errors it finds.


In our next edition, Speed Up a Slow Computer – CCleaner


Special Feature: iPad Basics - Syncing with iCloud

From gcflearnfree.org

Syncing is a must for anyone who owns an iPad, because it's what allows you to move seamlessly from one device to another. You can sync files, media, apps, and other information. All you have to do is set up iCloud on each device; then you can access the same content from almost anywhere.

Introduction to iCloud

iCloud is a service provided by Apple that lets you store your music, TV shows, and other files in the cloud (in other words, online). It also automatically syncs your files and information on all of your devices, so each one stays up-to-date.

iCloud works with the iPad, and other iOS devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad Mini. It also works with laptops and computers—even Windows PCs. With iCloud, you no longer need to connect your iPad to your computer to sync your files and settings; everything will sync automatically over Wi-Fi.

When you sign up for iCloud, you get 5GB (gigabytes) of storage space for free. If you want, you can buy additional space for a yearly fee. Your music, TV shows, and photos won't count toward the 5GB limit, so you may not need to buy additional space.

With iCloud, as well as other cloud-based services, you may have heard about something called push technology. This simply means that the content is downloaded automatically (or pushed) when syncing with other apps and devices. iCloud uses a lot of push technology, which helps to keep everything convenient and simple for the user.

In our next edition:
iCloud Features


Websites of Interest:

Cinco de Mayo
The Fifth Of May is a day that commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French army in 1862. For an account of the history, the battle, and the politics behind it, visit this website:

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Fare. This website has recipes for spicy soups, salads, chicken and fish dinners and more.

What’s Happening on Long Island
Your Guide to Long Island. Festivals, concerts, parades, and more.

A plane-ticket site with a difference: for people who are willing to consider multiple destinations if doing so might save them some money.

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States
Maps and history.