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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, May 12, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know
Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: IP Addresses and DNS
This Week's Topic: How to Clean a Dirty, Dusty PC
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Syncing with iCloud
Websites of Interest: Today I Found Out; Get Body Smart; Brain Games; Senior Law

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Special Feature: Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know

By Michael Poh of hongkiat.com

In the midst of all the fun connecting with family and friends via apps, walls, and photo albums on Facebook, we sometimes forget that our privacy is vulnerable on the Net. Every time we share info about ourselves across various networks, it is revealed to everyone even though it is meant only for a select few. As a result, people or organizations outside our network could easily exploit such info about us even without us knowing. Must users be willing to pit having a healthy online social presence against a firm hold of their privacy?

Not to fear though, we have here privacy settings that could help you better manage your privacy while at the same time make your content-sharing experience on Facebook worry-free. Individually, they may not be able to significantly strengthen your privacy defense but adopting most or all of these settings may put your mind at ease even when you have shared more than what you wanted to.

1. Organizing Friend Lists

Following the footsteps of the Google+ Circles concept, Facebook has implemented an improved Friend Lists for its users in September 2011. This feature allows you to effectively customize who can see what in terms of the categories you have placed your ‘Friends’ in. Inevitably though, this means that you would need to tediously organize all your friends into different affiliation groups like Friends, Family, Colleagues, etc before it can come to effect.

After you have set up your several friend lists, you can now define the privacy policies which you wish to apply to each of them. For instance, you might want to prevent your “Colleagues” friends from seeing any photos you had and will upload, but allow your “Friends” and “Family” to see them. This, along with restriction of contact details, wall posts or other updates, can be done when you tweak the settings within each group.

You are also now able to put in any new friends you’ve added into whichever category you want to. One thing to note is that if you place a friend into two categories like “Colleagues” and “Friends”, your privacy setting will be set to the more restrictive category. This means that if you restrict your “Colleagues” list from seeing your photos, then this friend whom you’ve put into the two groups will follow the privacy setting of “Colleagues”. He or she will not be able to access your photos.

You can find more detail on Organizing Friend Lists on this facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/blog/blog.php?post=10150278932602131

2. Hiding from Facebook Search

Don’t like people to add you to their Friend List? If you don’t list your user account into the Facebook search directory, then these people would not be able to find you there. How do you do that?

Well, all you need to do is to go into your privacy settings page and click on ‘Edit Settings’ on the right of ‘How You Connect’. Once there, just switch the ‘Everyone’ to either ‘Friends of Friends’ or just ‘Friends’. It’s the equivalent of disappearing off the face of the realm of Facebook.

3. Hiding from Public Search Engines

Aside from Facebook Search, the other place some people would want to hide themselves from the public is search engines like Google, Yahoo!, etc. In fact, it makes sense for people who remove themselves from the Facebook Search directory to hide themselves from these search engines where users and non-users alike can search them by name.

If you don’t want people to even have a glimpse of your Facebook profile on the Web, then you just have to click on ‘Edit Settings’ beside ‘Apps and Websites’. After which, edit the settings for ‘Public Search’ and you will go into a page where you have the option of seeing a preview of what others could see if they search for your Facebook account. This is also where you can simply uncheck ‘Enable public search’ and you are off the grid just like that.

4) Hiding Wall Posts

You can decide what you want to post on your wall, be it your most intimate secret, complaints about work or even philosophical musings. However, you can’t control what your friends want to post on your wall. Some of your friends may have a tendency to write things on your wall that you’d rather not let others see, like your relationship problems, financial troubles, etc. If you have some of these people on your list, you would be glad to know that you can customize who can see what others post on your wall.

Go to your privacy settings page once again, and click on ‘Edit Settings’ beside ‘Timeline and Tagging’. There are two ways you can configure your wall posts settings. One is to restrict anyone but yourself from posting anything on your wall. For this, you should look beside ‘Who can post on your timeline’ and choose either ‘Friends’ or ‘No One’. The other one below, ‘Who can see what others post on your timeline’, is pretty self-explanatory as well, and it affords for greater depth of customization.

5) Instant Personalization

Many of us are aware of online companies data mining and selling our demographics and profiles to marketers. Most of us hate them. Should you be unaware of this feature, this might give you butterflies in your stomach. Instant Personalization grants certain websites access to your public profile information when you visit them. What these sites do is that they adjust their web contents to suit your wants and needs, thus creating a personalized experience.

You may feel uncomfortable visiting places where such services can extract and openly use your personal information and details, even if it is to improve user experience.

If you are, you can easily turn off this feature by going to the privacy settings page and click on ‘Edit Settings’ under ‘Apps and Websites’ and then ‘Edit Settings’ under ‘Instant personalization’. Just uncheck ‘Enable instant personalization on partner websites’ and get peace of mind.

One More: Info Accessible Through Your Friends

There is certain information which you wouldn’t want to reveal to your friends on your list under your Facebook profile page. Also, this information about you which they can see is sometimes used by apps to enhance the social experience. If you want to keep your privacy on such matters, you can select what you wish to reveal and what you don’t.

After you got into the privacy settings page, go to ‘Edit Settings’ under ‘Apps and Websites’. Next, choose ‘Edit Settings’ beside ‘How people bring info to apps they use’ and you’ll see a list of boxes of personal info categories for you to check or uncheck to indicate which are the ones you don’t mind showing.

I hope that these Facebook settings will help you store your private details from prying eyes.

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Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: IP Addresses and DNS

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
http://www.20thingsilearned.com
http://www.google.com/chrome

IP Addresses and DNS

Do you wonder how your browser finds the right web page when you type a URL into its address bar?

Every URL (say, “www.google.com”) has its own numbered Internet Protocol or IP address.

An IP address looks something like this:
74.125.19.147

An IP address is a series of numbers that tells us where a particular device is on the Internet network, be it the google.com server or your computer. It’s a bit like mom’s phone number: just as the phone number tells an operator which house to route a call to so it reaches your mom, an IP address tells your computer which other device on the Internet to communicate with — to send data to and get data from.

Your browser doesn’t automatically know every IP address for the 35 billion (or more) devices on the planet that are connected on the Internet. It has to look each one up, using something called the Domain Name System. The DNS is essentially the “phone book” of the Web: while a phone book translates a name like “Acme Pizza” into the right phone number to call, the DNS translates a URL or web address (like “www.google.com”) into the right IP address to contact (like “74.125.19.147”) in order to get the information that you want (in this case, the Google homepage).

So when you type in “google.com” into your web browser, the browser looks up google.com’s IP address through a DNS and contacts it, waits for a response to confirm the connection, and then sends your request for google.com’s web page to that IP address. Google’s server at that IP address will then send back the requested web page to your computer’s IP address for your browser to display.

In many ways, fetching and loading a web page in the browser is not unlike making a phone call. When you make a phone call, you’d probably look up the number, dial, wait for someone to pick up, say “hello,” and wait for a response before you start the conversation. Sometimes you have to redial if there are problems connecting. On the web, a similar process happens in a split-second; all you see is that you’ve typed “www.google.com” into the browser and the Google home page appears.

In the next chapter, we’ll look at how we can verify the identity of a website that we fetch and load in the browser through the extended validation certificate.

In our next edition: Validating Identities Online

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Today's Topic: How to Clean a Dirty, Dusty PC

By Marco Chiappetta of pcworld.com

If you’ve had your PC for more than a few months, it’s probably lousy with dust, dirt, and worse. It’s time to do some spring cleaning on your PC—and I’m talking about the actual hardware here, not your operating system or data files.

Dirt Buildup Can Affect PC Performance

Plenty of physical hardware problems crop up on computers after extended use. Dust, dirt, hair, and other debris can build up on fans and heat sinks. Components can come loose or become unseated. Thermal paste can break down and becomes ineffective.

With a little cleaning and basic maintenance—and perhaps a bit of elbow grease—getting your PC back in top condition is easy. Just don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You may be surprised at the amount of gunk that accumulates in a PC whose hygiene has been neglected for a while.

Tools of the Trade

The first thing you need to do is assemble your gear.

I like to keep canned air, a small (about 1-inch-wide) paintbrush, and a Dustbuster or similar small vacuum on hand. In addition, some paper towels and a bit of all-purpose spray cleaner (like Fantastik or Simple Green) are useful, as are a microfiber cloth, a tube of good thermal paste, and some isopropyl alcohol.

The canned air and brush are useful for dislodging hair, dust and other debris from all of your PC’s surfaces—especially heat sinks and printed circuit boards (PCBs), which have a countless tiny nooks and crannies. The vacuum sucks up the various detritus. The paper towels, spray cleaner, and microfiber cloth are for wiping down hard, nonelectrical surfaces. And the thermal paste and isopropyl alcohol come into play if and when you need to reseat heat sinks.

What to Do

To practice what I preach in this article, I got my hands on a Core i5-based desktop PC that a smoker had been using (and not cleaning) for a couple of years in a house also occupied by a long-haired cat. Talk about a perfect storm!

As soon as I opened the door, I could see that the fan filters were completely clogged, and the vents on the rear of the system were covered with dust and cat hair. Even a small amount of detritus can choke off your PC’s air supply, resulting in higher temperatures that promote system instability and reduce the lifespan of your components. Clogged intake fans can cause negative air pressure within a system, too, forcing the system’s exhaust fans to suck air into the case through any open crevice.

Brush and Gently Vacuum

Before opening the system, I recommend vacuuming the dust and debris from the fan filters and other vents. Next, quickly wipe down the external surfaces with paper towels lightly dampened with spray cleaner. Don’t spray the cleaner directly onto any surface! The liquid could pool somewhere and cause a short.

Now open your PC and inspect its guts. The dust filters on my dirt-encrusted case did a nice job of keeping large debris out, but plenty of dust had still slipped in and built up on the heat sinks and on all of the flat surfaces. To clean the inside of the system, I started by vacuuming up all of the loose debris and ridding the flat surfaces of as much dust as I could. You can do the same, but be careful: When vacuuming inside a system, don’t use a big, high-powered vacuum and definitely don’t drag the hose or nozzle along the surface of any circuit boards. The last thing you want to do is knock off a surface-mounted capacitor or resistor and suck it up into the vacuum. Use the vacuum sparingly, and focus on gobbling up the largest bits of debris inside the case and on fans, heat sinks, and the like.

Remove and Reseat Cards and Cables

Once you’ve vacuumed up most of the dust and dirt, remove the add-in cards from the system (on my test PC, only a sound card and a video card fell into this category), and reseat all of the power and data cables on the drives.

Removing the cards makes them easier to clean. It also gives you a chance to counteract a phenomenon known as “chip walk” (or “chip creep”), which causes cards and connectors to come loose over time. As the components in a system heat up, they expand slightly. And when they cool down, they contract. Over many cycles of expansion and contraction, add-in cards and socket-mounted chips can creep out of their slots or sockets; reseating the cards and connectors ensures that they remain properly connected.

While the cards are out your PC, I recommend giving everything a solid blast of canned air. If you’re cleaning a particularly dirty system, you may want to do this part outside, because the dust will fly everywhere. Shoot the canned air at all surfaces and into all fans and heat sinks—in the direction opposite to the direction of the fan’s airflow, if possible. If, after vacuuming and using the canned air, you still see dust on a surface (this is common inside thin heat sinks), use the brush to clean out and dislodge the dust, and then fire away at the surface with the canned air again.

The vacuuming, brushwork, and multiple shots of canned air should remove most of the dust and other debris in your PC. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away any particularly stubborn dust. Never use paper towels to wipe anything down inside a system, because they tend to leave lots of small fibers and dust on textured surfaces. A microfiber cloth leaves nothing behind.

One last tip: If your PC is more than six months old, it’s worth reapplying the thermal paste. The thermal interface material (or TIM) used between CPUs and GPUs and their heat sinks breaks down over time and becomes less effective at conducting heat away from your PC’s components. To replace the TIM, carefully remove the heat sink and clean any old TIM from the heat sink’s base and from the surface of the chip it was mounted to using isopropyl alcohol (or any other alcohol-based cleaner that won’t leave any residue). Once the surfaces are clean, apply the new TIM and remount the heat sink.

Regular Cleaning Pays Off

Cleaning all of the muck and dirt out of a system can be pretty gross, at least the first time around, but doing it regularly ensures optimal cooling performance and stability. There’s really no downside other than the time spent, which won’t be fun if you’ve neglected your rig for an extended period of time. So get in there and get your hands dirty—your PC deserves a little TLC.

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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

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Websites of Interest:

Today I Found Out
If you are eager to learn new and interesting things, you will enjoy this website.
http://www.todayifoundout.com/

Get Body Smart
Learn about the human body using interactive animations.
http://www.getbodysmart.com/

Brain Games
Intellectually stimulating, free puzzle games.
http://www.proprofs.com/games/

Senior Law
Based in New York, this site created by attorneys includes a wealth of information for seniors.
http://www.seniorlaw.com/senior.htm